It is summer. You sit on the harbour enjoying the light breeze from the sea. You look across the water and catch a glimpse of Christiansø on the horizon. All you need right now is only seconds away. And here comes the waiter with the sun. The Sun over Gudhjem.
Okay, we might have been daydreaming a bit right there… But this week’s food term is the Danish smørrebrød speciality, Sol over Gudhjem. You might have heard of smørrebrød before or the Swedish comparable, smorgasbord. Smørrebrød means butter and bread. As the name suggests, smørrebrød is rye bread with any assortment of cold cuts, meats, cheese or spreads. Sol over Gudhjem is a special type of smørrebrød from the Danish island of Bornholm located in the Baltic Sea. The speciality is named after the city of Gudhjem situated on the north coast of Bornholm where the dish also originates. The name means Sun over Gudhjem.
But what is Sol over Gudhjem? Well, let us tell you! It is fish, but not any kind of fish. It is freshly smoked herring from the smokehouses (røgeri) on Bornholm. The smoked herring is placed on a piece of rye bread with the freshest garnish of the season: radish, onion, chives and lettuce. The cherry on top is the sun which is an egg yolk placed within an onion basket on top of the smoked herring.
Sol over Gudhjem originates from Bornholm where it has been a local speciality as long as people can remember. However, the origins of the smoked herring on Bornholm may have started way back when Scottish soldiers were deployed to Christiansø just 20 km northeast of Bornholm in the 1800s. It is said the Scottish smoked their fish on the island in smokehouses. In 1866, Bornholm started establishing their own smokehouses in Gudhjem. The smokehouses went up all over Bornholm afterwards and Gudhjem was at one point called The 100 Chimney’s Town. Today there are only 10 smokehouses left on Bornholm that are still working.
You will find the smokehouses on the harbours of the biggest towns on Bornholm. At the smokehouses, you will often find an adjacent restaurant and a shop. Here you can enjoy their local assortment of smørrebrød and sea specialities including Sol over Gudhjem. Many of the smokehouses on Bornholm open around Easter and are open until winter and colder weather comes around. An annual Sol over Gudhjem competition for professional and celebrity chef is also held in Gudhjem every June. In the competition, the chefs have to create gourmet dishes using Bornholm products.
As we dream us back to warmer summer days, you can make this dish on your own. Sol over Gudhjem is very simple and you can make it at home. The most difficult thing to get your hands on might be the rough Danish rye bread. Depending on where you are from you can get it fresh in the supermarket or at your local stores and bakeries. If you cannot seem to get rough rye bread anywhere, whole-grain bread can be a substitute. The smoked herring you should be able to find at your local butcher or at the supermarket.
- (Danish) Rye Bread – called rugbrød in Danish
- Freshly smoked herring
- (Red) onion
- Raw egg yolk
- Black pepper & sea salt
If you have a full smoked herring with head and skin, then remove the head, skin and bones before beginning. Butter the rye bread, put lettuce on the bread and place your smoked herring on top of the lettuce. Dress the herring with red onions on top. The onions should be placed in a ring like a basket so you can gently place the egg yolk inside the basket forming a sun. Garnish with radishes, chopped chives, grinded pepper and sea salt. Now you have Sol over Gudhjem. Tip: A nice cold beer suits Sol over Gudhjem wonderfully.
Smørrebrød. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sm%C3%B8rrebr%C3%B8d (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Herring. Encyclopaedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/animal/herring (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Sol over Gudhjem. Meny. https://meny.dk/opskrift/sol-over-gudhjem (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Sol over Gudhjem. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_over_Gudhjem (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Bornholm. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bornholm (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Sol over Gudhjem 2020: Deltagere og dommere på plads. Sol over Gudhjem. https://sogk.dk/deltagere-og-dommere-2020/ (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Sun over Gudhjem (Sol over Gudhjem). Ferieøen Bornholm. https://bornholm.info/en/sol-over-gudhjem/ (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Bornholm Smokehouses. Ferieøen Bornholm. https://bornholm.info/en/bornholm-smokehouses/ (Accessed 22nd January 2020)
Written by Mads Rise
Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. Holds a BA in English and IT-based Marketing and Communication from the University of Southern Denmark. Mads finished his BA with a thesis on Search Engine Optimisation and E-commerce. He has hands-on experience in web communication, SEO, administration and logistics.