onsdag, juni 28, 2006

My life as a smørrebrødsjomfru

Beautiful homemade smørrebrød

I'm done with work until the end of August, and heavily into preparations for my first journey, to spend a month in Lisbon. While there I will be staying with and seeing old friends. Of course, I would like to share my new culture with my old friends. And by culture, I mean food. I will therefore spend my first nights in Lisbon preparing that most portable of Danish foods, smørrebrød.

So, I have had my first experience as a smørrebrødsjomfru - literally, a spread (smørre) bread (brød) maiden (jomfru), which is the title given to the young ladies who make the smørrebrød in restaurants and cafés. Thor was my instructor; for each type of smørrebrød, he made a model, and then I made one following his example.

Me making dyrelægens natmad, a blurry but historic event

Smørrebrød is basically open-faced sandwiches, but much, much more. It's not complicated to make, but it's an art, all about the order of eating (first the fish, then the meat, then sometimes the cheese, though we skipped the cheese this time), which condiments go with which pålæg (toppings)...and presentation is everything.

It always starts with the bread, a Danish rye bread (rugbrød), covered with a not-skimpy layer of butter. The pålæg is put on top of this, and then this is pyntede (decorated) with the appropriate condiments. It is important that the bread be covered by the toppings: the bread is merely a carrier for the other stuff.

We made the following four classic smørrebrød varieties (presented in the order of preparation and also the order of eating):

1) Pålæg: a strip or two of white pickled herring (hvidsild). This is a very sweet herring. It is garnished with capers, diced onions, and dill.

White herring; the red was the same, except for the color and the dill.

2) Pålæg: a strip or two of red spiced pickled herring (krydderisild). This is a stronger herring. It is garnished with capers and onions, but no dill.

3) Dyrelægens Natmad: literally translated as 'the veterinarian's midnight snack', one of the most famous varieties. The first topping is leverpostej, a roughly ground liver paté. Then comes a big slice of sky (pronounced sort of like 'skoo'...but not quite). Sky is 'aspic' in English, a sort of gelatinized boullion. On top of that is a slice of 'saltkød' (literally, 'saltmeat'), which I've seen translated as corned beef, but it isn't. There is often a ring or two of raw onion as well, but I decided there was enough raw onion with the herring.

The sky should be hidden under the meat, but I wanted you to see it.

4) Pålæg: roast beef. This is covered with a line of remoulade, a section of grated dried onions, and a sprinkling of grated horseradish (in Danish, peberrod, or 'pepper root') to give it a bit of a kick.


Several of these ingredients are sort of acquired tastes...like the herring and the Danish bread. So, let's cross our fingers that my friends like it! If they don't, they'll at least get to wash it all down with Akvavit and Danish beer. Akvavit, (or snaps can be served instead), is specifically to accompany the fish, though people tend to keep drinking it with the other courses. Beer is, of course, meant to accompany pretty much anything in the Danish kitchen.

25 kommentarer:

Tiffany sagde ...

My mouth is watering!!!

kimananda sagde ...

Good...then I've succeeded! It tasted pretty good, too.

And, by the way, welcome! :-)

al-Ferengi sagde ...

Yay, højtbelagte sildemadder, m m. :D
Og tak for sidst, may your way to and in Portugal be covered with blessings and pleasant encounters :D

Simple American sagde ...

Hve a great trip. Man that looks so GOOD! :)

Nice to see a pic of you after all of these months of just the questioning eye.

Sangroncito sagde ...

We finally get to see a full photo of you!

But I'm left with this question: What is the proper way of eating it? With your fingers or a knife and fork?

Devil Mood sagde ...

Hmmm that looks lovely! :)
And you're turning into a proper food porn(er?) - how do you call a person that makes porn? Pornographer? Oh, yes, that's it! Yummy!

Vesper sagde ...

looks amazing. and you are so friggin cute!!!

True Blue Guy sagde ...

Yum !!!!!! - That does look nice - Enjoy your trip!!

jackt sagde ...

I find it interesting how the dishes that are seemingly simple to make are often the hardest to make well.

Morose sagde ...

I haven't had breakfast yet. Curses.

My dad makes openfaced sammiches that are quite good. no fancy ingredients like the ones you show (which, for all I know, might be normal ingredients for sandwiches in Denmark), but he has onerecipe - fried spam, slice of tomato, and top it off with pimento spread - that I adore. i'll have to make it sometime.

kimananda sagde ...

Ms. Black Scorpio, yep, deeelish! Og lige måde. And don't forget to sms or e-mail your addy, so I can put you on my Portuguese gift list.

Mr. American, thanks! My first thought when reading your comment and Sangroncito's below was 'but I have posted a real pic before'...only it was last July, and I had no readers then, apart from some real-life friends and family. Feel free to check it out...I hardly recognize myself from then, in the photo or the writing.

Sangroncito, see comment above about the photo. And, definitely knife and fork food. I managed it otherwise at this morning's breakfast, but it gets pretty messy, as everything basically falls off the bread when you pick it up.

Ms. Mood, that could be my new profession, food pornographer. Or I'm just trying to gross out my vegetarian readers (there are several of you, including my Mom). :-) You may want to avoid my blog for July though, as there may be gratuitous photos of tostas mista. And soup. Canja da galinha. Rissois. Pasteis de nata. Um...I'm going to have lunch now! ;-)

Vesper, thank you...you've got me almost blushing.

Blue, it was quite nice...and I'm looking so forward to all of my beloved Portuguese dishes, too.

Jackt, exactly. Here the difficult part is the preparation. I actually haven't ever had it in a restaurant, so it's not possible to compare, but I think we did pretty well.

Morose, yep, these are very common ingredients. All kids grow up on leverpostej, for example. It's sort of the Danish equivalent to peanut butter. And would you believe I've never had spam...just the name alone, and then of course Monty Python, have kind of put me off of the idea...what does it taste like?

Helen sagde ...

They all look yum, though I'm not too convinced about that lump of sky - what does it taste like? Have a fab time in Portugal - we're off there in Oct so am interested to read about it! Helen

Devil Mood sagde ...

Oh don't worry, I'm used to it, there's plenty of meat all around me...What can you do? ;)

Chloe sagde ...

you are so beautiful! i had only seen your eyes, so i should have known. Have a great journey and bring lots of photos back.
I'll have a veggie smørrebrødsjomfru when i am there (IF i can pronounce it).

Jack P Toerson sagde ...

It's amazing how few bloggers are morbidly obese hill-billies with relatives in freezers. You look good in the photo.

Food's not bad either.

Daphnewood sagde ...

I would try the vet's midnight snack and probably dive into to the roast beef one. I just can't get into jarred/canned/pickled fish other than tuna. I try to like it but can't stomach it. And I am a lover of fresh onions. This is a new found love for me. I am glad Sangroncito asked about the finger food or knife and fork because I assumed they were like cocktail sandwiches you would serve at a party. What domestic royalty you have turned into!

kimananda sagde ...

Helen, sky doesn't have much flavor, it's more the gelatin adds a bit of texture. It's made with boullion, so it tastes vaguely meaty. It's hard to describe, but I quite like it.

Ms. Mood, I know what you mean. Meat is everywhere in Portugal. But there are good non-meat things as well...soup, bread,...I'm going to stop before I get hungry again. After seeing my friends, and getting my language skills back, the main thing I'm looking forward to is the food!

Chloe, I thought about giving a pronunciation guide to the foods listed here, but I gave up. I've never seen veggie smørrebrød, but as it's an evolving art, it could certainly be done, and done well. I'll have to think about that a bit. And thank you for the lovely words about my photo. I'm almost that blurry in person, actually. :-)

Jack, it's just that the hillbillies only link to and read other hillbillies. The worst is the dilemma when you put someone in the freezer; do you delete their link, or do you keep it as a kind of memorial and/or to fool the authorities? And thank you for the nice compliment. I'm now considering blurry as a permanent look. :-)

Daphnewood, it's totally acceptable to skip the herring. And you wouldn't make the mistake of eating these with your fingers...they're much bigger than cocktail sandwiches, and more importantly, they have much more 'stuff' on them, so it gets very messy if you eat them that way. As for domestic royalty, I'm developing quite a complex about silverware...I don't use a knife if I don't need one, and when I do need it, it often ends up in the 'wrong' hand. It's a bit of an ongoing battle for me, and as I'm not too fussed about it, a losing battle as well.

Simple American sagde ...

I can still remember when you used your portrait as an icon. But it has been a while since.

Nabeel sagde ...

you actually make the food look pretty .. and i am sure it tastes pretty too :) .. awesome .. u cook like a chef :) and awesome picture

kimananda sagde ...

Mr. American, I have been considering going back to a more revealing profile pic...I'm just waiting until I have the 'right' one.

Nabeel, thanks for the lovely words about the food and pictures. I tried to make them look as tasty as they actually were...and I almost succeeded!

B sagde ...

Lady Kimananda,

Pray forgive, but I have an allergy to some of the things you've prepared. It developed while I was well into my adulthood and I miss those flavors.

It is indeed mouth-watering.

I'm not a beer drinker. I had the occasion to sample mead. I'm showing my ignorance here, but isn't mead fermented from honey? It was so delicious.

This post recalled images of my aunt preparing delicacies in her kitchen when I stayed with her in her apartment in the city, when I was child.

Good memories...

Greg Mills sagde ...

Gol' dang, that looks good. I love little fishie noshy dishes.

And i'll be answering your questions shortly! we just got back from Oregon and i'm sunburnt and knackered and covered in sand.

I love the questions. Very, uh, probing.

DayByDay4-2Day sagde ...

I'll take one Pålæg: to go!

kimananda sagde ...

Bryan, yep, mead is from honey...it could work with this meal. I don't like beer, but the beer is not a necessity. As for the rest, enjoy it virtually!

Greg, yep, noshy dishes are good! And I look forward to hearing your answers...it was not easy coming up with the questions, either.

Day, you may have whichever one you'd like! :-)

JvS sagde ...

Cheese please.

And Boa sorte em Portugal.