An open-face sandwich with two Scandinavian classics: pickled herring and tangy dairy.
For the herring:
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 2 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1 tsp. whole cloves
- 1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1⁄2 cup dry sherry or white wine
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Peel of ½ an orange, white pith removed
- 4 old-fashioned matured herring fillets, rinsed (or substitute pickled herring filets)
For the squash puree and to assemble:
- ¼ Hokkaido pumpkin, or substitute half of a medium butternut squash, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Juice of 1 small orange
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground coriander
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large orange
- 4 slices Danish-style rye bread
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Crème fraiche, for serving
- 1-2 tbsp. pepitas, toasted if desired
- A few sprigs fresh chervil, for garnish (optional)
- Make the herring: In a dry medium saucepan, add the spices over medium-high heat; cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until aromatic, 4-5 minutes. Add the vinegar, ½ cup water, the sugar, sherry or wine, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick; cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve, until the mixture is simmering. Remove and add the orange peel; let cool.
- In a container or bowl large enough to fit the herring, add the herring and prepared pickling mixture. Let stand at least 1 day and ideally up to 3.
- When ready to serve the smorrebrod, preheat the oven to 350°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the pumpkin or squash pieces with the oil and a generous pinch each salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake until very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly, then coarsely mash. Add the orange juice, ground coriander, and salt and pepper to taste; mix until smooth, well seasoned, and well combined. Set aside.
- To assemble, cut the peel off the remaining whole orange and carefully slice the orange into skinless wedges.
- Divide the butter among the bread slices and spread to coat. Remove the herring filets and let the excess moisture drip off. Place the pieces atop the buttered bread, then add the orange segments, a few small dollops of crème fraiche, and a few small dollops of the squash puree to each. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped toasted pepitas and chervil to taste, and serve immediately.