- With the rise of restaurants like Noma, Denmark’s innovative, sophisticated fine dining scene has gotten much well-deserved press in the last decade. This innovation and refinement, however, extends so much farther than the cities’ restaurant scenes. Danish food is intentional, well-composed, and a celebration of the land it is served on.
- In some ways, Danish cuisine is more insular than most. It is rooted in the food that Danish peasants and Vikings ate and has evolved with the availability and quality of ingredients in their environment. Their global influences come in smaller measures, like the adoption of warm spices brought by spice traders or the introduction of classic French technique as European travel picked up in the mid-20th century.
- Due in part to the cold climate, pork is a big part of Danish cuisine and found on most dinner tables. Pork sausage, and preserved meats in general, are a hallmark here. Danes have become innovative and skilled preservers after many generations of storing meat for winter.
Danes take their herring seriously. This little oily fish is revered in the country and put up in a multitude of preparations. It is most often served pickled. Preserving the fish in salt and vinegar extends its shelf life ten fold, and has become a distinctive Danish taste on its own. Danes eat it on smørrebrød, or open faced sandwiches. We like it in another traditional preparation- served with onions, capers, and plenty of well buttered bread.
STEP AWAYYY FROM THE RESTAURANT:
With its roots in peasant cooking, the home hearth is a major player in Danish cooking. Because of the fine dining scene, some public perceptions paint Danish food as austere or stuffy. The home cooking scene, while adopting the same flavor refinement of fancier restaurants, is warm and casual. Danes often throw dinner parties for friends focused on the same traditional dishes you might see out. Just make sure you take off your shoes before entering the home!
BRING IT HOME:
This recipe is inspired by Danish food writer Niclas Grønhøj Møller. You can get access to more of his modern Danish recipes at Saveur, available here.
Danes and potatoes have a mutually beneficial relationship. The potato is an incredibly popular side dish in Denmark, and the country’s cool climate provides perfect growing conditions for the tuber. In this popular dish, boiled potatoes are served slightly caramelized. The sweetness offsets the earthy richness of the potato perfectly.
15 small yellow new potatoes (about 1-inch diameter), scrubbed
3 tbs. white sugar
3 tbs. butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place potatoes in medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a knife. Drain potatoes and let dry in colander.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and sprinkle in sugar. Allow to cook undisturbed until sugar starts to bubble around edges and brown. When all sugar has melted, continue to cook until golden brown. Carefully add butter and stir until caramel is blended. Reduce heat to low and add potatoes. Swirl pan until potatoes are evenly covered in caramels. Season liberally with salt and pepper.