An introduction to Danish food culture

Danish cuisine is based on ingredients caught, gathered or grown in the countryside and is shaped by its natural, climatic conditions.  

The Vikings ate fish, chickens, pigs, cows, horses and goats, all of which they farmed. They also ate grains, cabbage, wild berries and fruits from trees that could survive the Danish climate. 

Today, those are the ingredients from which new Nordic cuisine draws its inspiration.

Since the time of the Vikings, imported food has changed food preferences across the country. Spices, rice, pasta and more exotic fruits and vegetables now come from all over the world. 

There are also regional differences. In Jutland and Funen, people eat more classic Danish food together and eat a lot of fish, because they are close to the sea.

 Plaice, herring, salmon and shellfish are common on the Danes’ dinner table. 

Being in South Jutland, near the border, they are inspired by German cuisine. In Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark located on Zeeland, people are more into the new Nordic cuisine. 

Overall, Danish cuisine is famous for rye bread, smorrebrod (open sandwiches), meatballs, fish dishes and pastries, while New Nordic cuisine is becoming more popular.

1. ground beef with fried onions

This dish dates back to 1888. At the time, meat was chopped by hand on many Danish cattle farms.

 Today, Dansk hakkebøf med bølge løg, or minced beef steak with fried onions, is very popular among Danes of all generations.

Ground beef is seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried until medium rare or well done. 

A sauce is made from the pan juices and poured over the steaks, which are topped with finely chopped caramelized onion. The dish is served with boiled potatoes and pickled beets and gherkins. 

Variations on this dish can be found at Danish grill joints. Here, fried steaks are sandwiched in a toasted burger bun with pickled beets, ketchup and remoulade and hot brown sauce on top. 

2. Fried Meatballs with Vegetable Stew

Carbonadre, originally inspired by the French crêpe, became a great success in Danish kitchens in the 1950s. The dish consists of minced pork or a mixture of pork and veal.

Shaped into a burger, it is then rolled in beaten egg, dipped in a flour and bread crumb mixture seasoned with salt and pepper, and fried in butter until golden brown. 

It is served with either boiled potatoes or potatoes fried in butter and a gronet, a milk-based gravy.

Gravy is made by adding butter, flour, pan juices and peas and boiled carrots.

The dish can also be served with a butter sauce, if you feel you don’t have enough butt on your plate. Younger Danes are a little more savvy these days and find Cordonader a little uncomfortable.

 But still, they love it when grandma makes it because it makes them nostalgic for their childhood.

3. Tartlets with Chicken and Asparagus

In the late 17th century, the French created the tartlet. It was originally eaten as a jam-filled dessert. Later in the early 1960s, Danish tartlets came with chicken in asparagus. 

Since then, they have become exceptionally popular. Young and old alike love tartlets, which are often served as a starter or at family celebrations.

The dish is very simple and consists of small pieces of boiled chicken, small pieces of white asparagus, and a thick cream-based sauce, flavored with chicken bouillon and salt and pepper. This luscious filling goes into a crispy lotus-shaped puff pastry shell.

Other fillings are shrimp, meatballs or chicken with peas and carrots and topped with chopped parsley.

4. Roast Pork with Crackling, Caramelized Batte and Red Kobi

This dish is often eaten on Christmas Eve but also for many other festive occasions and for Sunday dinner. It consists of roasted pork with lots of salt.

 The crunch is the secret to its success: the rind is rounded into narrow strips so that it puffs up and crisps up while roasting.

The pork roast is served with small boiled potatoes that are caramelized in a mixture of equal parts butter and sugar, forming a golden brown mass in the pan. 

On the side is pickled red cabbage, to cut through the sweetness, and lastly, a wonderful sauce of thick pan juices. 

5. fried pork breast with parsley sauce

Stegt flæsk med persillesovs has been named Denmark’s number one national dish many times, and goes back to the 1890s.

The dish consists of 1 cm thick slices of pork breast, the crispiest part and the best texture by adding plenty of salt and fried ingredients at once. -Or put it in the oven if you want a healthier option.

The meat is served with boiled potatoes and a parsley sauce, a milk-based sauce made with meat juices, a little sugar and lemon juice or juice, and plenty of finely chopped parsley.

 The best sauce is to thicken the sauce with flour (avoid lumps). Many Danes like beetroot with some pickles.

6. Pot Roasted Chicken with Gravy, Rhubarb Compote and Granny Salat

This is a traditional Danish summer dish with many ingredients from the summer kitchen garden, such as fresh potatoes, rhubarb potatoes and hoevedsalat or butter lettuce.

A whole roasted chicken is seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried in a large pan with plenty of butter until completely tender.

Gravy of chicken juice is prepared with cream. Along with the dish, baby potatoes, cold rhubarb compote and mormor salat, granny salad, are served. 

Mormor Salat is a very simple salad consisting of just a simple cut lettuce leaf with a drizzle of cream, sugar, salt and vinegar or lemon juice.

7. Rye Bread with Assorted Toppings

Danish farmers always eat rye bread, which contains a lot of healthy minerals and vitamins from the coarse flour, and often adds a variety of seeds such as sunflower seeds, sesame or flax seeds. On top, they put salami or cheese.

But in the late 1800s, a more modern and festive form of smørrebrod was invented in Copenhagen, where royals and wealthy, high society lived.

 Rye bread was now heavily topped with various types of cold meat or fish.  

There are a variety of smørrebrod toppings: fried fish fillet with remoulade; roast beef with remoulade, pickles and horseradish; Or sausage rolls with mayonnaise, peas, carrots, and chopped asparagus and an Italian salad. 

Boiled shrimp and mayonnaise, pork liver pate, with fried bacon and mushrooms, sliced ​​cold smoked ham, currysalat with mayonnaise, asparagus, tomato, and cucumber or herring, mayonnaise, sliced ​​egg with mayonnaise, cooked pork liver pate. Powder, chopped boiled eggs, pickles and capers. The varieties are endless.

There are shops in Denmark that only sell smørebrod, for example the famous Tivoli in Copenhagen. It’s a perennial favorite for all ages, and while new Nordic cuisine has modernized smørrebrod, it’s the traditional versions that reign supreme. 

8. meatballs with gravy, potatoes and pickled vegetables

Frickedler is a classic everyday dish. It is a type of Swedish meatball consisting of minced pork or a mixture of pork and veal with added egg, finely chopped onion, milk and optionally breadcrumbs.

 The mixture is formed into balls the size of golf balls and fried in butter or oil until golden and brown. They are served with boiled potatoes and a gravy made from pan juices is poured on top.

Meatballs can also be enjoyed with pickled gherkin, pickled cucumber, red cabbage or cold potato salad with a dressing of mayo and chopped parsley. They are also popular in buns with pickled red cabbage and mayo.

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