Exploring the World of Danish Gastronomy
With the Copenhagen Beer Celebration just passed, and the Kulinarisk Sydfyn event in the town of Svendborg on the horizon, we thought it was time to investigate what other culinary delights are to be found in Denmark.
Denmark consists of more than 400 islands. It is therefore historically a fish nation. Of the many seafood delicacies, Oysters are among the most sought after. It has been argued Julius Caesar invaded Britain because of the rich Oyster fields that surrounded the island, while Casanova allegedly ate 50 oysters every day. They are the food of lovers and are allegedly an aphrodisiac. Perhaps the best Oysters in the world live in natural reserves in Denmark.
In North Jutland, Denmark, Limfjorden is home to the largest remaining wild oyster bed of the endangered original European Oyster. Oysters from this region have always been considered a rare delicacy. They were once hoarded by the King of Denmark, who kept these oysters exclusively for the royal tables. The oysters grow meaty and delicious thanks to high nutrients in the flowing waters where they live; which is a combination of fresh water and water from the North Sea. These Limfjorden oysters have an intense mineral aftertaste, they have a bolder taste than it’s cousins (there are over 100 types of oysters), and are arguably the most delicious. However, overfishing and oyster disease have left the European Oyster on the verge of disappearing.
Why oysters are so good for your brain – and actually makes you smarter
Your brain basically is made up with a lot of neuron wiring, and all wiring needs to be coated – in the brain Omega 3 fats are insulating those wires and oysters are very rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Scientist believes that the seafood based diet of early man developed the human brain to what it is today. Oysters and other marine life simply is better food for thought. Because they are rich in zinc as well as iron, eating oysters keeps your mind sharp and increase your ability to recall information easily. Zinc and iron have been linked to the brain’s ability to stay focused and remember information. Some claim a seafood and oyster diet will increase your intelligence and learning abilities if introduced in childhood. Others say oysters can slow down dementia or alzheimers. Eating oysters may also keep your brain from deteriorating as you grow older.
Boris Buono is a veteran of the breakthrough years at Noma, currently ranked no. 1 restaurant in the world. Boris is now the caretaker of Copenhagen’s oldest and most prestigious fish restaurant and is in love with the original European Oyster. Boris prepares his Oysters with natural herbs, yoghurts and mineral flavoured vegetables.
Here’s one of Boris’ excellent recipes for Oysters:
OYSTER A LA KROGS
4 Danish Limfjords-oysters (the same as Belon/Whitstable oysters)
2 cl good quality dill snaps or pure eau de vie
1 spoon rapeseed oil
Open the oysters carefully with an oyster knife, and free them from the shell. Mix the rapeseed oil and snaps, and apply freshly squeezed lemon juice to the marinade according to taste. Let the oysters marinade in the sauce for two hours. Just before serving, cut the apple in small dices and pluck the dill. The oysters are placed back in their shells with a large tea spoon of the marinade and small apple dices and dill on top.
In Denmark, there are guided tours where oyster enthusiasts can eat their heart out; picking up incredibly large oysters in what seems unlimited numbers. Bring a knife, a bottle of champagne and some lemons and contact the Wadden Sea centre for a guided trip : www.vadehavscentret.dk – due to the changing tides it is recommended that you don’t just walk out into the sea by yourself.
Secondly, the ‘open’, rye bread sandwich lunch
The open sandwich tradition of Denmark – known as smørrebrød – is perhaps the only Danish tradition to the world’s culinary map. It was the combination of a working class hero – the rye bread lunch sandwiches of farmers and workers – and the lavish dinners of the urban bourgeoisie and nobility. The urban wealthy made the sandwiches stylish in the latter part of the 19th century, drawing on an old tradition of serving meats and fish on slices of bread instead of plates.
The true charm of the open sandwich is variation, and now, Danish chefs are focussing on developing Nordic food; looking to create a culture based on indigenous products. For a classic combination, try North sea shrimp – blanched and peeled – served with eggs, homemade mayo and peppery cress (always on the rye bread, of course!)
Adam Amann, Danish chef says, “all over the world people are looking for substitutes to wheat. Much white bread is only an edible spoon, but here is a whole other and deeper flavor in the rye bread. It’s healthy and rich in fibers.”
‘Oyster’ images by Jenny Nordquist
‘Open Sandwich’ images by Claes Bech Poulsen