Danish open sandwiches
Warren Elwin combines art direction with cooking to make smørrebrød — Danish open sandwiches that are affectionately known in the Bite kitchen as scandos.
Danish Smørrebrød (which translates to butter and bread) are scrumptious open-faced sandwiches, topped with myriad savoury options, each elegantly art directed and served on thick slices of dark rye bread that have been spread with good-quality butter.
Traditional toppings, all of which can be mixed and matched according to Scandinavian protocol and taste, may include pickled herrings and mackerel, gravadlax, smoked fish and eel, shrimps, cold cooked and cured meats, chopped liver, beef tartare, pates and even bacon. Accompanied by sliced boiled egg, tomato, cheese, onion, radish, cucumber and pickled beetroot, they can be garnished simply with mayonnaise, horseradish cream, a slice of lemon, chives, or dill. More decadently, they may also be finished off with a piquant remoulade sauce, white anchovies, caviar, microgreens, and even a raw egg yolk.
Here are four of my favourites, or you can flex your savoury imagination and try a few of your own wicked combinations. Eat them with a knife and fork, and wash them down with a frosty cold lager, or more traditionally, a shot of Swedish snaps.
- Smoked fish, sliced radishes, sliced onion, mustard or remoulade sauce, capers and dill to garnish.
- Shrimp or prawn salad (mayo, sour cream, blanched celery, chopped chives, lime zest and juice), finely sliced cucumber, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, with a white anchovy garnish.
- Chopped liver (I sauteed chicken livers, chopped onion, garlic and ginger in duck fat until just firm and coloured, then finished them with fresh marjoram, orange zest and juice. Cooled and chopped to serve), pickled beetroot, remoulade sauce, micro greens and caviar to garnish.
- Gravadlax or smoked salmon, sliced hard- boiled egg, microgreens, lemony mustard sauce, dill and freshly ground pepper to garnish.
The bread and butter
These “scandos” call for one of our fine New Zealand artisan butters. Ask your local baker for a dark rye bread — most have their own signature loaf — or use pumpernickel from select supermarkets and health food stores.