Three images of Danish food

Cook like a local: Denmark

Exploring the larder of this Nordic nation will yield rich rewards, from dark, earthy rye bread and cinnamon-laced bakes to pickled herring and herbal spirits

Want to learn about Danish food? Looking for Danish recipes? Read Trine Hahnemann’s guide.

Advertisement

Recipes extracted from Scandinavian Green by Trine Hahnemann, (£26, Quadrille). These recipes were supplied by the publisher and not retested by us.


Danish cuisine

Denmark is a small country, made up of the peninsular Jutland and some 1,400 islands. Seventy-two of those have people living on them, and nowhere are you more than an hour away from the sea. Denmark is very flat and dominated by a cycling culture and a lot of outdoor activity. Danes have a saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothing.”

Danes still live by the seasons and now, in winter, there are a lot of apples used for both desserts and savoury dishes, a variety of cabbage cooked in many different ways, and root veg roasted, baked or steamed. Bread is a very important part of the food culture: rye is eaten for breakfast or lunch by most Danes every day. Denmark has many smørrebrød (open sandwich) places – you might start with herring, then go for potato, and finish with Danish blue cheese. Smørrebrød has to be enjoyed with a cold beer and flavourful aquavit, made with local herbs.

Locals go to their baker for cakes flavoured with cardamom or cinnamon, and also for real Danish pastries. Right now there is an ice cream revolution, with many different varieties being made. Danes don’t mind queuing up for a nice ice cream, even in the winter months.

Danish recipes

Potato crunch with preserved lemons

Trine says, “We need to celebrate the potato as a worthy staple in the northern hemisphere. The tubers store well in winter and, because of the starch they contain, make a great binder that is useful in a lot of vegetable cooking. Their CO2 footprint is also lower than that of other carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice. Potatoes deserve their place in everyday cooking, not only as a side dish, but as the main event, in all its endless variations. This dish looks spectacular and delivers that satisfying crisp crunch.”

A Danish potato dish in a roasting tin

Red cabbage, apple and pomegranate salad

Trine says, “This is a classic Hahnemann recipe and I make it whenever I can find pomegranates. Pomegranates are very seductive, juicy, with a unique sweet and sour taste that complements the more bittersweet red cabbage here. In Denmark, we used only to be able to find pomegranates around Christmas time, but now I see them much more frequently. Still, in my kitchen, they remain a real winter treat.”

A red cabbage salad in a white bowl

Fig tart with brandy cream

Trine says, “Eating figs is like travelling on Aladdin’s carpet to all the exotic places we do not yet know. Figs are sweet and surprising, promising adventures and new frontiers.”

Fig filo tart with brandy cream
Advertisement

Recipes extracted from Scandinavian Green by Trine Hahnemann, (£26, Quadrille). These recipes were supplied by the publisher and not retested by us.