Want a quick and tasty, but elegant lunch sandwich? Let’s throw together the Swedish standard for sandwiches, kallrökt lax och räk smörgås or cold smoked salmon and shrimp sandwich. The smörgås or open-faced sandwich is put together with one slice of bread and toppings of your choice. In Sweden, they’re available in local restaurants in addition to local grocery stores and as street food . They’re as commonplace in Sweden as the hamburger is in North America. Additionally, they’re easy and quick to make at home and make for a very nice lunch.
First of all, a little food history. Scandinavian open faced sandwiches have been around for for hundreds of years. They also likely came from a European coarse bread, “trenches” which dates back to the late 15th century. A trench was said to be a flat piece of bread used as a plate. After you finish the meal on top, you ate the plate. Scandinavia history tells us that the farmer would take a piece of bread and load on leftovers from dinner. He would then carry it into the fields the next day for lunch. Because the juices of the leftovers soaked into the bread, the plate (bread) would be eaten. Hence, the open-faced sandwich was born or at least that’s what my friend Wikipedia tells me.
My first taste of a smörgås also called smørrebrød in Denmark was in Copenhagen in 1998. As I strolled down the pedestrian street (Strøget) in Copenhagen, there was window after window with these lavish looking open-faced sandwiches. My stomach had to experience one and my stomach and I have been hooked on them every since.
So let me show you how easy it is to put one of these joyous sandwiches together.
First of all, the ingredients required for this sandwich should all be available to you at your local grocery. Now the bread you use is up to you, but for my readers in North America, I’d suggest a dense rye, pumpernickel or maybe Naan bread. If your able to find Swedish Hönö bread of Danish rugbrød even better. Also, we’ll need mayonnaise, bib/Boston lettuce leaves (or lettuce of your choice), some hard boiled eggs, cold (nova) smoked salmon, small salad shrimp, lemon slice, sweet red pepper and of course fresh dill.
NOTE: A large part of the joy of this dish is making it look so good you can eat it with your eyes. So, take your time and make a lovely looking sandwich.
Start by spreading on as much, or as little mayonnaise as you like on your bread. We like a thin layer, but some like more.
OPTION: In Scandinavia, some start with butter and then some mayonnaise. Some also, start by spreading butter and finish the sandwich with a dollop of mayonnaise. Some probably like neither. It’s all a personal choice.
Next, get the lettuce on top of the bread and Mayo.
Now, place on the lettuce as much of that luscious cold smoked salmon as you can afford.
Follow this with the sliced hard boiled eggs. I like about half an egg, but other prefer more.
Pile on a handful of cooked salad shrimp. Now you’re ready to garnish.
TIP: If you live in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon bay shrimp would be wonderful in this sandwich. In other North American areas you find these little guys at your fish counter or in the frozen food section labeled “salad shrimp”.
Placing the garnish of a thin slice lemon along with the slice of sweet red pepper and a nice sprig of fresh dill is especially important. It’s like putting the ribbons and bow on a package!
Okay, we’ve just made a classic Swedish cold smoked salmon and shrimp sandwich in six quick and easy steps. Serve this up with a dollop of mayo on the side or try it with Lemon-Curry Aioli. Oh and don’t forget that nice chilled glass of white wine, beer or libation of choice.
Swedish Etiquette Note: For those of my readers who just want to grab this lovely sandwich with their hands and tuck it in, here in Sweden one eats their smörgås with a proper fish knife and fork. That is, unless no one is watching!
HAPPY SANDWICH EATING!
Sandwich with Cold Smoked Salmon and Shrimp
- 4 slices Bread of choice (dense rye, pumpernickel, Naan or Danish rugbrød)
- 4 tbsp (msk) Mayonnaise (or as desired)
- 1 head (small) Bib/Boston lettuce (or lettuce of your liking)
- 1 lb (454 g) Cold smoked salmon (might be labeled Nova, lox or smoked lox)
- 1 lb (454 g) Small cooked salad shrimp (or Oregon bay shrimp)
- 4 large Hard boiled eggs
- 4 slices Sweet red pepper (paprika or red bell pepper).
- 4 slices Lemon thin sliced
- Fresh dill for garnish.
Spread as much, or as little mayonnaise as you like on your bread. (and/or butter)
Place the lettuce on top of the bread and Mayo.
Lay 4 oz. (113 g) the cold smoked salmon on the lettuce.
Position 1/2 to 1 sliced egg on top of the smoked salmon.
Put 4 oz. (113 g) of the salad shrimp atop the sliced egg.
Set the thin slice lemon on top of the shrimp.
Next, lay a thin slice (or two) of sweet red pepper on top of the sandwich.
Lastly, position a nice sprig or two of dill on top.
A large part of the joy of this dish is making it look so good, you can eat it with your eyes. So take your time and make a lovely looking sandwich.
Serve with a dollop of mayo on the side or try it with Lemon-Curry Aioli.