Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Far Away Home

Our summers are usually spent in Denmark, in a little cottage by the north coast. While our other holidays are driven by a list of sights to see, adventures to pursue, or new places to eat in, we arrive in our home away from home with no daily schedules planned in advance.

Some days are spent cleaning up the overgrown garden. (Thankfully, the weed whacker and lawn mower replaces the boys' PS3 obsession!) Another day could mean painting the wooden deck and garden furniture. (A good exercise in perseverance!) There are other days where we just wing it, hopping into the car to check out the other seaside towns and beaches. When the boys were little, they used to crack up laughing at these Danish road signs:

(this actually means Speed Control)

(and this means Bath + Toilet available)

At the harbour, little kiosks sell the freshest fish and seafood for lunch. The ubiquitous burger and hot dog stands are there too, as well as a sashimi bar and a Thai food stand (huh?). Step into the blackened walls of the Smokehouse and you'll find rows of smoked salmon, mackerel, herring, and fish roe. The butcher secures his place amidst the fish and seafood mongers, and touts his frikadeller as the best in town.

Here's a very old and traditional recipe for frikadeller, from the Danish food bible Froeken Jensens Kogebog (Miss Jensen's Cookbook), first published in 1901! She explains that the meatballs can be made from veal, beef or pork, or a blend of either two. The binding agent is most often flour, but eggs, breadcrumbs or soaked bread slices can also be used. Milk, cream, broth or water facilitates the binding. Salt and pepper provide flavor, but onions and different herbs can be added accordingly. A good meatball mix demands constant stirring of the ingredients, and the more you stir, the lighter and more moist the consistency becomes. Cook the mixture immediately though, as its shelf life in raw form is very short.

(Danish Meatballs)
for 8 persons

500g minced pork
500g minced beef or veal
3 teaspoons salt
1 large onion, diced
1 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together, stirring constantly until you have a smooth consistency.

If the consistency is too runny to hold a shape, add more flour to the mix.

Heat pan to medium, add 50g butter and a splash of olive oil to pan. Using a spoon, scoop mixture and drop into pan. Turn heat to low and fry meatballs for about 5 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. The meatballs can be flipped over a few times so meatballs are cooked thoroughly and evenly browned.

Serve with boiled potatoes and pickled red cabbage or cucumber salad.

For the cucumber salad, peel, remove seeds and slice cucumber thinly. Place in a bowl or colander and sprinkle with salt. After 20 minutes, discard extracted liquid and give the cucumber slices a good squeeze before placing in serving bowl. Mix about 3-4 tablespoons white or cider vinegar, 4-6 tablespoons sugar and freshly ground pepper. Pour over cucumber and chill before serving.

(At home, I serve the frikadeller with gravy which I make from the pan drippings, but this is not traditionally Danish.)


  1. This is my first time seeing a recipe for Danish meatballs. The texture of the paste is so light!

  2. Nice to meet you, Anh! p.s. your Mexican frybread looks so good, I need to make that soon.

  3. yeah! new recipe! pretty easy to make to. i hope you enjoyed your danish vacation (with a chance of meatballs) LOL. hurah!