The Kingdom of Denmark is located in the north of Europe, is the southernmost of the Scandinavian countries and has a land border with Germany. Danish cuisine is a mixture of German and Scandinavian culinary traditions.
Characteristic features of the national Danish cuisine
Danish food preferences are traditional and unchanged for centuries. The small amount of ingredients used is more than offset by the great variety of their original combinations and high quality products.
Life in a harsh climate requires food to warm well, so an important feature of the national Danish cuisine is its high nutritional value.
The main sources of protein are fish, seafood, meat (mainly pork). The side dish is vegetables, both thermally processed (potatoes, cabbage) and fresh (radishes, spinach, carrots, celery, peppers).
In Denmark, a large number of grain dishes are eaten, including hundreds of types of sandwiches, pastries, cereals and drinks.
Dairy and sour milk products, cheeses and sauces are widespread.
Benefit for health
The Danish kingdom has high demands on the quality of its products. For example, the government restricts the use of antibiotics for livestock. Restaurateurs prefer to use locally produced goods, exercising control at all stages. Danes prefer freezing to preservatives.
In the 80s. XX century the state began to support organic agriculture, the main principles of which are caring for human health, minimizing the impact on the environment and humane treatment of animals. On such farms, plants are grown without the use of artificial fertilizers, they pause in crops to give the land a rest and recover naturally. Cattle are given only natural feed and additives. Keeping them in a comfortable environment reduces the stress level of the animals and improves the quality of milk and meat.
Danish cuisine is high in calories and high in protein and healthy fats. Fish and seafood, which form the basis of the Northern Kingdom’s diet, are the main natural sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated and fatty acids. This component, which has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, accelerates metabolism, increases immunity, is necessary for good nutrition.
The main type of bread used for food by the Danes is rye. It is distinguished by a high content of phosphorus, dietary fiber and magnesium.
Residents of Denmark actively use seasonal vegetables, fruits and berries in their diet, which provide them with vitamins and microelements. The fiber found in plant foods aids in the digestion and easy digestion of meat and fish.
Danes mainly eat rye bread.
The history of development
The ancestors of modern Danes were Scandinavian tribes, mostly Danes. The first information about them appears in the sources of the 6th-7th centuries.
The basis of agriculture was animal husbandry. Pigs had priority over cows and sheep due to their omnivorous nature: it was easier to feed them in winter. In addition to cattle, the Danes bred poultry. Mainly cereals were grown in the fields: rye, barley, wheat. Some wild plants (sorrel, nettle) were domesticated.
Fishing, marine and freshwater, and hunting, incl. on marine mammals, seals and whales. The Danes collected berries, mushrooms and nuts. We have learned to grow some fruit trees, radishes, parsnips, turnips, horseradish, carrots, unpretentious types of herbs and legumes.
To preserve food, the Danes used fermentation, drying, and smoking. Skyr was prepared from milk – an analogue of yogurt or kefir. Calf gastric enzyme was used for folding. In the cold season, cows, due to the scarcity of food, did not give milk, so skyr became the main dairy product. It was kept in barrels dug into the ground. Skyr is now produced in some regions of the Danish kingdom.
VIII-XI centuries – the era of the Vikings. The Danes are actively involved in sea raids. From them, the conquerors bring, among other things, outlandish spices, wines, seeds and new recipes for dishes. Condiments have taken root in the national cuisine, and to this day the Danes love to add spice to dishes with the help of chili, mustard and ginger.
In the XVIII century. potatoes are imported to Denmark. The root crop turned out to be unpretentious enough to grow in infertile soil, and now it is the most common vegetable in the country. It is boiled, fried, baked, mashed, added to salads. Thus, the XVIII century. considered the time of the formation of the national cuisine in the form in which it exists to this day.
Danes respect the culinary heritage of their ancestors. The basis of the diet and many dishes have survived unchanged to this day. You can verify this by going to one of the small traditional taverns. Some of them have been around for centuries, competing with newer cafes and restaurants. True to tradition, the modern inhabitants of the kingdom prefer locally produced foods rich in protein, fat and vitamins. They eat a lot of fish, meat, vegetables, milk.
The Danes have a lot of meat and fish on the menu.
- lump meat: pork, beef, lamb;
- minced meat: meatballs, sausages, sausages, cutlets;
- offal: liver, fried in pieces, in the form of a paste, heart;
- poultry: chicken, goose, duck;
- fish and seafood: cod, haddock, salmon, eel, herring, flounder, trout, shrimp, mussels;
- vegetables: cabbage, potatoes, carrots, beets, celery, spinach, radishes, onions, zucchini;
- greens: dill, rosemary, oregano, chives, thyme, garlic, watercress, parsley;
- berries: cloudberry, prince, currant, cherry;
- fruits: apples, plums (prunes), pineapple;
- dairy products: cheese, cottage cheese, cream;
- bakery products: rye, French bread, wheat buns, pretzels;
- sauces: berry, mayonnaise, mustard;
- desserts: sweet pastries, pudding, marzipan;
- drinks: juices, coffee, hot chocolate, carbonated water, jelly;
- alcohol: aquavit, schnapps, beer, mead.
Basic cooking methods
Long, hungry winters dictated to the Danes the need to prepare food. Long-term storage food was needed by the Vikings who set off on long sea voyages. The earliest methods were fermentation, drying, smoking, salting. Salted meat and fish were soaked before use to remove excess salt, and then fried.
Now poultry meat is also salted. One of the traditional Danish dishes is salted chicken, served with mayonnaise sauce with pineapple juice.
Products requiring heat treatment are fried until crispy, stewed, boiled, smoked, baked. Some cooking methods may seem strange to tourists: for example, cod in Denmark is usually boiled, not fried.
The traditional Danish menu includes dishes that don’t need to be fried or cooked, such as the sweet summer coldskol soup. To prepare it, just beat all the ingredients and add crispy or berry topping.
In Denmark, cod is traditionally boiled, not fried.
Danes prefer simple and hearty foods, like the ones their ancestors ate.
Meat and fish
High-protein food is the basis of the diet of the inhabitants of the northern countries. Meat and fish are included in the first and second courses. They are stewed, baked, fried until crisp.
The traditional side dish on the Dane’s table is made from various types of unpretentious vegetables. These include potatoes, cabbage, legumes, greens. They make simple and nutritious meals. The most popular of these are stewed red cabbage and mashed potatoes.
Bread and baked goods
The inhabitants of the Danish kingdom eat a lot of bread, both as part of sandwiches and as an addition to main dishes. In addition, rye rusks are the main ingredient for beer porridge and sweet soup. Traditional bread has a sour taste, rich aroma and is often complemented by grains and seeds. The assortment of pastries is wide: the most popular are cinnamon rolls, carrot pies, pretzels, marzipans.
Smerrebred is a cult Danish snack, a distinctive feature of the national cuisine. Among the fillings in various proportions and sometimes unexpected combinations there are fish, meat, poultry, sausages, pates, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, herbs.
Danish cuisine is famous for its many sweet dishes. Among them there are both baked goods and other desserts: pudding, jelly, cold creamy soup. Love for sweets, as well as for hearty protein foods, can also be explained by the cold climate, because sugar has a high nutritional value. Local berries and fruit crops are widely used in desserts: cloudberries, lingonberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, apples, plums.
Danish cuisine is rich in a variety of sweet dishes.
The favorite hot drink of the inhabitants of the kingdom is coffee. They drink it at any time of the day. Tea is supplemented with herbs or berries. Hot chocolate is popular with children and adults.
Various berry and fruit jelly, fruit drinks, juices are widespread. The traditional Danish drink is sweet elderberry juice. Most often it is drunk chilled, but in the cold season it can be consumed warmed up.
Beer is considered the most popular among low-alcohol drinks. Until the XVI century. it was brewed by women, but then, with the emergence of the first brewers’ guild in 1525, it was mainly men who became involved in this craft. In its present form, it was formed in the 19th century. with the emergence of the companies “Carlsberg” and “Tuborg”. In these breweries, the production of foam in industrial quantities was established without loss of quality. Now, in addition to large factories, there are a large number of private breweries.
Another traditional drink is hoppy honey, or mead. It is mentioned in the history of various countries, incl. Denmark. It is believed that the Vikings brewed mead.
The name of the Danish vodka Aquavit comes from the Latin phrase aqua vitae – “living water”. The strength of the drink is 40-50 °. On its basis, bitter alcoholic tinctures are made – bitters. Initially, aquavit was made from grain, but then potatoes were used as raw materials.
A similar drink is schnapps, but it is not driven from root crops, but from fruits or cereals.
There is winemaking in Denmark, but due to the small amount of manufactured products, the prices for Danish wines are high.
The Danes are actively using sauces. Among them there are both fatty ones, based on butter, sour cream or mayonnaise, and lighter ones, vegetable or berry ones, which give the dishes a piquant taste. Greens, hot seasonings, spices are added to sauces. Some of them are borrowed from French cuisine. These include remoulade, a mayonnaise-based sauce with herbs, pickled cucumbers and garlic. It is so popular that it is often offered alongside mustard and ketchup in street shops for hot dogs.
Remoulade sauce is very popular with the Danes.
The Danish kingdom is located mainly on the Jutland peninsula, includes the Danish archipelago, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. From a culinary point of view, all parts of the country are united by the sea, i.e. a large amount of fish in the diet of the inhabitants of each of the regions. However, the difference in climate and relief leaves an imprint on the characteristics of local cuisines.
For example, in Greenland, which is 81% covered with ice, local residents (Inuit) eat peculiar dishes from marine mammals:
- matak – a mixture of frozen whale skin and fat;
- akutak – traditional ice cream with berries, salmon, sugar and whipped fat;
- dried deer meat;
- fresh blood.
Tea with milk, fat, salt and spices, which makes it similar to the first course, as well as sweet coffee with liqueur are common drinks.
The culinary specialty of the Faroe Islands is lamb dried in the wind. Its preparation time is from six months to 9 months. Specific products of the region include puffin poultry dishes, which are hunted in July, after the breeding season.
Funen Island is famous for the sakkuk flour pudding, which is served with pork fillet.
Even traditional and popular dishes throughout the kingdom vary slightly from one region to another.
The famous sakkuk pudding is baked on the island of Funen.
Must-haves to try in Denmark
Some dishes are on the menu of any Danish tavern. These are examples of the very national cuisine that intrigues tourists from all over the world and makes Denmark a popular destination for gastronomic tours.
The traditional rye sandwich started out as a simple snack for employees. Then only butter, cheese and sausage appeared on it.
In 1888, Oscar Davidsen opened a bar at a liquor store that offered smerrebred as a snack. The wife of the restaurateur Peter was responsible for enriching the assortment. For 10 years, the selection of fillings has expanded to 178 pcs.
More than 100 years later, the family business is still flourishing: generations succeed each other, the excellent quality of the ingredients remains constant. Davidsen’s successors took smerrebred to the international gastronomic podium and is now the culinary personification of Denmark.
According to various estimates, there are from 200 to 700 types of fillings. Smerrebreds are made so multi-layered that it would be inconvenient to bite off them, so in restaurants they are served with a knife and a fork. Sandwiches also remain a popular street food option.
Translated from Danish, the word means “cold bowl”. This summer refreshing soup is made with egg yolks, lemon juice, skim cream (buttermilk) and vanilla. The dish is complemented with Danish cookies or berries.
“Million Steaks” is ground beef or small cuts of beef in gravy. The dish is served with a traditional potato side dish, rice or pasta.
Pork slices fried with apples, onions and spices go well with bread, potatoes or omelettes.
Danish dish Eble-flask.
Fried herring is a simple and tasty dish, a traditional beer snack. It is served with sweet onion rings.
Crispy-fried pork belly with sauce is a favorite Christmas dish for Danes who use lingonberry or sour cream-dill sauce. Sometimes beets are added to it. Stegt-flask can be used as an appetizer on rye bread, or as a main dish with a side dish of potatoes or stewed cabbage.
Red cabbage, which is prepared with cloves, sugar and apple cider vinegar, has a sweet and sour taste and is an excellent side dish for meat and fish dishes.
Pork ribs marinated in dark beer and barbecued. It is customary to complement Elben with tomato sauce and a glass of wheat beer.
Sugar, lemon zest and whipped cream are added to a kind of porridge made from stale rye bread soaked in wheat beer. Ellebred can be served both for breakfast and dinner.
Redgred honey flede
One of the popular berry dishes in Denmark, the name of which literally means “red porridge”. The consistency of the dessert is closer to jelly. Before serving, add a creamy sauce or whipped cream and garnish with fresh berries.
The fish is served with mustard sauce and boiled vegetables. Boiled cod is a traditional Christmas Eve dish.
According to legend, sausages acquired their red color in the 30s. XX century thanks to beet juice and coincidence. The manufacturer has tinted stale items to make them more attractive. Suddenly, sausages became popular. Buyers started asking shopkeepers about them, and the idea stuck.
Street food stalls in Denmark are called pelsevogne. The most popular types of street food, besides sandwiches, are hot dogs with red sausages. These sandwiches include pickled cucumber and onion and sauces such as ketchup, mustard and Danish mayonnaise remoulade. Unlike American hot dogs, Danes eat bread and sausages separately, dipping them alternately in the sauce.
Thanks to the simplicity of ingredients and recipes, many national Danish dishes can be easily prepared at home.
Danish Mint Honey Duck
This dish is a poultry stuffed with an aromatic blend of mint, honey, butter and lemon peel. The stuffed duck should be baked in the oven for an hour and a half.
The sauce is made from chopped lemon, mint and honey.
For a side dish, it is best to cook traditional cabbage by stewing it with the addition of beets and sugar.
First you need to make minced meat from a mixture of pork liver and fatty pork. Add finely chopped dried anchovies, spices and eggs to it, mix thoroughly.
Make a white sauce from butter, flour and milk. Then mix the minced meat and sauce. The pate is cooked in the oven in a water bath, wrapped in several layers of foil. The baking time is an hour and a half.
Traditionally, Danish pate is eaten with berry sauce.