Open sandwiches 101: Guidelines for “Smørrebrød”

Christmas is a time when families, across the world, gather for an annual holiday feast. In Denmark, either on Boxing Day or on the second day of Christmas, families gather for a traditional Danish smorgasbord of open sandwiches. In Danish “Smørrebrød”.

Making your own open sandwich sounds very simple. It’s just a piece of rye bread with whatever you like on top. At least, that’s what Danes tell you. However it isn’t actually that simple. When I first tried to make my own open sandwich my Danish colleagues looked at me skeptically and said “Are you sure you can eat that? This does not go together with that. You shouldn’t sprinkle this on that. Oh, that is the wrong kind of sauce to put on!” As a foreigner, you are at a loss to know what goes together on the bread according to Danish conventions. Therefore, I must admit, I initially tried to follow the people around me. I’m sure I looked like a psychopath in that way.
After a short while, however, I got the grasp of things. So here are some guidelines for “Smørrebrød” or open sandwiches:
  • One kind of meat at a time.
  • One kind of sauce at a time.
  • Liver paste comes with bacon.
  • Herring fish comes with fresh onion.
  • Salmon comes with dild, including dild sauce.
  • Fried onion on meat, not fish.

That’s simple, isn’t it? Below are examples. For beginners, try to be minimalist when it comes to open sandwiches.

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