Smørrebrød (originally smør og brød; Danish for "butter and
bread") usually consists of a piece of buttered rye bread (rugbrød), a dense,
dark brown bread.
Left: Danish open
sandwich (smørrebrød) on dark rye bread (almost covered) with breaded
fish, salad, cucumber, shrimps, black-colored lumpfish roe (sort
stenbiderrogn) and tomato.
The topping can
include commercial or homemade cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese or
spreads. This daily practice is the base on which the art of the famous Danish
open sandwich, smørrebrød is created: a slice or two of
the topping is placed on the
buttered bread, and then decorated with the right accompaniments, to
create a tasty and visually appealing food item.
Bread is a very important part of the Scandinavian table. Smørrebrød
is based primarily on
rugbrød, which is
sour-dough rye bread. It is a dark, heavy bread which is sometimes bought
pre-sliced, in varieties from light-coloured rye, to very dark, and refined to
Traditional toppings include marinerede sild, which are pickled
herrings, slightly sweeter than Dutch or
German herrings; thinly-sliced cheese in many varieties; sliced cucumber, tomato
and boiled eggs; leverpostej, which is pork liver-paste; dozens of types of
cured or processed meat in thin slices, or smoked fish such as salmon; mackerel
in tomato sauce; pickled cucumber; boiled egg, and rings of red onion.
Mayonnaise mixed with peas, sliced boiled asparagus and diced carrot, called
italiensk salat (lit. Italian salad), remoulade or other thick sauces often top
the layered open sandwich, which is usually eaten with utensils. It is custom to
pass the dish of sliced breads around the table, and then to pass around each
dish of toppings, and people help themselves.