Norway’s day of independence is celebrated on May 17. On this day Norway is transformed into a living museum as many people wear folk costumes (bunad), rural clothes dating back to pre-industrial Norway. Hence both women and men wear colourful clothes with lots of embroidery and hand-made silver or gold jewelry. Some women even cover their hair with scarves while men wear strange hats and ornamented stockings. Norwegian flags are everywhere, on pets, in flowerpots, in children’s hands.
Independence Day is not only the most dressed up day in Norway, it is also the most crowded one. The children’s parade is the pillar of the celebration and people flock to the streets to watch the children parading. To children May 17 is a piece of heaven. On this particular day there are no limits as to how many ice creams, hot dogs and sodas children are allowed to consume by their parents.
The invention of skagentoast (Toast Skagen)
I celebrate the day with a smorgasbord consisting of classic Norwegian salmon and scrambled eggs paired with Sweden’s most famous sandwich, skagentoast (Toast Skagen). After all, Norway and Sweden were once united. After Norway achieved our Constitution on May 17 in 1814, we entered into a union with Sweden that was to last until 1905.
Skagentoast was invented in 1956 at a regatta in Denmark. When the wind died during the regatta, the skipper made a meal to encourage his crew. Luckily, the skipper happened to be one of Sweden’s most influential chefs, Tore Wretman, and the dish he invented was Toast Skagen. It was named Skagen because the regatta took place outside Skagen, the northernmost tip in Denmark.
This version of skagentoast is more luxurious than the original and the recipe is adapted from the beautiful book ”Skalldyr” by Leif Mannerström. Skagentoast is served on bread that is toasted in a frying pan with butter. This is a good option if you want to serve it as an appetizer or individual dish. Here I serve the bread plain.
Skagentoast (makes about 10 sandwiches)
400–500 g cooked and peeled shrimps
4 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp mustard
½ red onion, finely chopped (leave some for garnish)
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
fish roe (choose one that is sustainable, e.g. salmon roe, ask your fish monger)
Peel the shrimps and slice the bread into squares or triangles. In a bowl, mix the finely chopped herbs and red onion together with the sour cream, mustard and mayonnaise. Add the shrimps, taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Spoon on top of the slices of bread and garnish with red onion, a sprig of dill and fish roe.