Danish food has come along way since the days of cabbage sausage and rib broths! But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can still try these traditional Danish dishes at inns and restaurants round the country. In the old days, Danish food evolved from its surroundings. Pork, vegetables and fish were standard fare with pickling, smoking and boiling favoured methods of preparation. Many of today’s top Danish chefs have returned to these roots, combining age-old methods with new techniques and technology to develop the mega-popular New Nordic Cuisine.
The small fishing town of Skagen in North Jutland is the place to try Plaice á la Skagen, particularly Brøndum’s Hotel. The town is located in a beautiful coastal area with plentiful fish, but a harsh sandy landscape which makes growing produce difficult. Berries thrive here and this recipe uses cranberries, lingonberries or raspberries in its sauce.
Limfjord, a little further south, is where you can taste some of the best eel recipes in Denmark. At Venø Inn in Struer, try their famous rolled eel (rulleål) which is boiled with onions, salt and pepper and served chilled with potatoes. For a taste of the 1700s, head to Sevel Inn in Jutland to gorge on Beer Ribs (Ølben), spareribs marinated and cooked in stout, then left and finally grilled. The perfect accompaniment to a cold beer or the inn’s homemade herb schnapps.
Barge Pullers’ Pot is an intriguingly named dish that dates back to the 1800s, when goods were transported around Denmark by barge. Barge pullers were employed to drag the barges along Denmark’s rivers and canals and it was hungry work. Inns along the rivers would have pots of pork, beef, vegetables and smoked bacon bubbling away in readiness for the barge pullers at the end of the day. Try a slightly more sophisticated version of the original casserole at Svostrup Inn, a stone’s throw from the River Guden.
South Jutland is also known for sausages. This is the place to be brave and try cabbage sausage, especially around Christmas, at inns in the region. The sausages are only served with cabbage, not made of cabbage! Head to Tyrstrup Inn for a great version of this traditional dish.
Sun eggs (Solæg) are another unusual regional speciality. Eggs are cooked with the brown husks from onions and placed in brine for up to three weeks. When they’re ready, you peel and half them, remove the yolk and fill the hole with a mixture of Tabasco, oil, vinegar and mustard before putting the yolk back on top. Buch’s Wine Bar in Haderslev makes a great solæg.
Sakkuk is a kind of flour pudding, served with cured lamb, pork filet, mustard and syrup. Originally served at weddings in olden days, you can still try Sakkuk at several places on the island of Fanø, including Café Nanas Stue in Sønderho. According to tradition, you must wash it down with warm white beer and schnapps.
Aerø is known for its extremely thick pancakes, made by adding yeast to the dough. In the summer, you can try the pancakes with honey and apple sauce at the street stalls at festivals and public events.
Funen omelette is an age-old speciality and Restaurant Carlslund in Odense is famous for its version, which has been on the menu since 1860. The omelette is served with roast pork, rye bread and mustard.
Take a tour of Møn on Zealand, to sample the local herring, known as Herring Bites (Bidesild). This is a centuries-old dish where the herring is marinated in large barrels of brine over many years. Try this dish with bread at restaurants such as Kaj Kok Restaurant in Land Sled. Another popular Møn specialty is wheat cakes, made with very fine flour and coated in cheese. Have these with homemade pickled plums for a delicious lunch.
The world-famous, open sandwich on rye bread, smørrebrød, became popular in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, in the 1800s. A great place to enjoy modern versions of this dish is Ida Davidsen’s shop, where you can choose from 250 different kinds of sandwich.
You can’t visit Bornholm without a trip to one of the island’s old smokehouses, where you can sample the delicious smoked treats and see how they are made. Sun over Gudhjem is a very famous dish of smoked herring on rye bread, with chives and a raw egg yolk.
Salt-fried herring is another old dish from Bornholm. This is herring that’s been soaking in brine, then dipped in flour and fried in pork fat. A lot more delicious than it sounds! Another traditional food is Gudhjemmadyppa, bacon in sweet and sour sauce. You can try old dishes such as these at Bokulhus Restaurant in Gudhjem and various other restaurants across the island.