By Helen Russell
Recipes and photos by Mia Irene Kristensen
Denmark, a small Nordic nation with a population of just 5.5 million, has been responsible for a worldwide culinary renaissance in recent years.
With its unique coastal climate and distance from the equator, Denmark offers perfect growing conditions for berries, rye, barley and oats, while its waters provide an abundance of seafood. The nation’s proud culinary tradition rests on a distinctive diet and a strong tradition of living off the land. And since 2004, they’ve been sharing this tradition with the rest of the world.
It all started when gastronomic entrepreneur Claus Meyer collaborated with Denmark’s best chefs to formulate the New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto, which laid out the guiding principles of NewNordic cuisine. These principles included eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, making the most of food from the sea, eating higher-quality meat (but less of it), foraging where possible and eating organic produce in season. Sounds simple, but the diet made international news with Copenhagen University officially pronouncing it a healthy approach to eating for every population. Now, New Nordic cuisine is no longer confined to fancy restaurants; home cooks have developed a taste for it as well.
“Many people associate New Nordic cuisine with elaborate, experimental and expensive foods, but we want everyone to be able to enjoy it,” says Mia Irene Kristensen, who teaches its techniques in Copenhagen and London. “New Nordic just means living according to the season, eating locally and foraging whenever possible; it’s about taking advantage of nature—in a nice way. It’s something that all of us can do.” Kristensen says that there’s an opportunity to forage wherever you happen to find yourself: “I live in the middle of the city in Copenhagen,” she says, “and have just found some great sloeberries and rose hips. You just need to look around with fresh eyes.”
And once you’ve taken home your foraged finds? Well, then the key is to keep things simple, says Kristensen: “It’s about purity in flavors and combining fresh, high-quality ingredients to create something special.” Here she shares three of her favorite recipes with Skagen.
Beetroot Salad with Horseradish, Dill and Cottage Cheese
“With crunchy raw beetroot, creamy cottage cheese, pungent horseradish and sweet berries, this dish serves up typical Nordic flavors that are both pure and refreshing,” says Kristensen. Here’s how you can make it at home:
What you need:
4 beets, peeled
50 g/1.8 oz dried cranberries, unsweetened
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
200 g/7.1 oz cottage cheese
1–4 tsp horseradish, freshly grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh dill, minced, to garnish
Cut the peeled beets into matchsticks, toss with cranberries, salt and vinegar, then let rest for 10 minutes.
Stir the horseradish into the cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Finally, garnish the beet mixture with the cottage cheese and sprinkle with plenty of fresh dill.