Last Updated on February 7, 2023
You find yourself in Denmark – probably Copenhagen – and you are looking for local food. What do you need to eat when you don’t want to look like a tourist? Or, in other words, how to eat like a real Dane?
This is the biggest Danish classic, and it comes in so many varieties that everybody can find something he or she likes. Basically, smørrebrød is an open sandwich, with black rye bread as a basis and a huge number of toppings. The most popular ones are, in no particular order:
- Herring in vinegar.
- Shrimps with mayonnaise and fish eggs.
- Ham with Italian salad (mayonnaise with peas and chopped boiled carrots).
- Liver paste (my personal favourite), mostly with bacon and cucumber in vinegar.
- Fried herring in vinegar with raw onions.
- Roast beef with horseradish.
- Red herring with raw onion, sometimes with eggs.
- Boiled veal with horseradish.
- Sliced boiled new potatoes with mayonnaise and dill.
- Pork with red beets and Italian salad.
- Deep fried fish fillet with remoulade sauce.
TAKEAWAY: In the mood for an experiment? Go to a Danish smørrebrød restaurant, mention the number of open sandwiches you want to eat and say “unspecified”. The cook himself will choose the toppings then.
These are meatballs, usually made of pork. They are usually served with fried onion and cucumber in vinegar or red beets. If you happen to be vegetarian, don’t panic. In most Danish supermarkets, you will find fiskefrikadeller (so, based on fish). And if you want to eat them like a real Dane, have them with remoulade sauce.
We have already covered this in the article 10 Belgian Foods You Really Need To Try, boeuf tartare is essentially minced raw beef. But there are differences between the two countries in the way it is prepared. In Denmark, boeuf tartare is served with bread and butter, capers, anchovy, raw onion and raw egg yolk. You can also season the beef with salt and pepper. Do not confuse this dish with steak tartare, which is boeuf tartare that is slightly fried.
Stjerneskud literally means meteor. This dish consists of two fish fillets, one of them boiled and the other deep fried. It is served with a sauce based on mayonnaise, shrimps and asparagus; and it can be put on a slice of bread (usually black rye bread) with butter. This one is my favourite Danish dish. You can easily find it along the entire Danish coast (7000 kilometres!) and it is not expensive.
There are lots of local specialities when it comes to smoked fish. On Bornholm (an island in the west of Denmark, located under Sweden), for example, they prefer smoked herring. A very well known dish is called Sol over Gudhjem, which means Sun over Gudhjem (a place at the eastern side of Bornholm). It is a sandwich with raw egg yolk (which symbolises the sun) and smoked herring. Other popular smoked fish dishes on Bornholm are smoked mackerel, smoked eel (and boiled eel as well for that matter) and smoked seasonal fish. As you might have guessed, Bornholm is known for its smokeries. Moreover, in the east of Denmark and especially on Rømø and upwards, the fish industry is dominant as well. Here you can eat smoked salmon, smoked herring, smoked eel and smoked mackerel.
Which Danish dish are you willing to try to eat like a real Dane?