Grillbarmad - Danish Fast Food

frikadeller meatball sandwich

Traditional Danish fast food unfortunately is declining in popularity. Hotdogs at pølsevogn on the streets are still quite popular, but classic grillbarmad is slowly being replaced by more exotic foreign fast foods like falafels, bagels, pizza and american burger chains.
Grillbarmad is a style of food served in grillbars, small neighbourhood hole in the walls that serve simple takeaway food rooted in Danish culinary tradition.

danish fast food

Similar to chippys in the UK, grillbars often cater to the after club scene and provide comfort food for hangovers the next day.

Here are some classic items on a typical grillbar menu:

Pølser - various types of Danish hotdogs
Bøfsandwich - a Danish burger with ketchup, crispy onions, remoulade and pickles
Ribbensandwich - thick slices of roast pork, red cabbage, and pickles on a bun
kyllingesandwich - grilled chicken with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a bun
fiskefilet - breaded fried fish with pommes frites and remoulade
Frikadellesandwich - danish meatball burger with red cabbage, crispy onions, remoulade and pickles
Biksemad - a fry of small beef cubes, potato, and onion served with beets and fried egg
Pølsemix - french fries topped with cut up hotdog pieces, raw chopped onion and  curry ketchup
Brændende kærighed - fried bacon cubes and caramelized onions in gravy over mashed potatoes
Boller i karry - pork meatballs in mild curry sauce on mashed potatoes
Buggi burger - a very large burger (up to 1 pound) with tomato, lettuce, and mayo (no one seems to know what "buggi" means but it is used on menus all over Denmark)

biksemad polsermix
Pølsemix and Biksemad
There are several different styles of grillbar and what they offer varies.

•  Pølsevogn. I wrote an earlier article on Danish hotdog stands you can read here
•  A pølsebod is like a korvkiosk in Sweden offering hotdogs as well as pommes frites and bøfsandwiches
•  A Pavillion tends to be in the countryside near family campgrounds and parks. It serves the above plus ice cream and breakfast items
•   Havnegriller lie outside harbours in coastal towns and have plated items like battered shrimp and fries, wienerschnitzel, pølsemix, and frikadeller
• Gryden such as "Vikinegryden" and "Den Sorte Gryden" can be found in larger towns and serve all the Danish grillbar items as well as steaks and roast pork for takeaway

danish grillbar

kinagrill denmark
Danish Kinagrills
a Kinagrill offers pølser, ribbensandwich, and sometimes biksemad as well as old school Chinese food for Danish tastes, like sweet and sour pork balls, chop suey, giant eggrolls and of course boller i karry

vesterbro kebab shop
    The other major type of grillbar is a shawarma grill which offers middle eastern food with pommes frites as well as kyllingesandwich and fiskefilet. In Copenhagen, Vesterbro and Nørrebro have a rivalry over who has the best shawarma. I side with Nørrebro.

danish grillbar

A unique grill bar by the Copenhagen airport is Flyvegrillen. This grillbar has been operating on the edge of the runways since 1972 catering to plane-spotters and families. It offers all the classics and has model airplanes hanging from the ceiling.

Recipe For Frikadeller Sandwiches

Frikadeller is the national dish of Denmark. I used to buy frikadeller sandwiches at a  smørrebrød takeaway at Nørrebros Runddel, but it's long gone now. I translated this recipe from 'Frøken Jensens kogebog' which was released in 1901 and is considered the definitive source of 19th century Danish cuisine.

200gr ground veal
200gr ground pork
100-150 ml flour
300-400 ml. milk1
2 eggs
1 finely diced onion
2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

frikadeller meatball sandwich1. Beat the pork, veal, flour and onion together in a mixer until well blended
2. Slowly add the eggs and milk a little at a time while mixing
3. A good frikadeller farce needs to be homogeneous and well blended
4. Let the mix rest in the refrigerator for an hour
5. Form into oblong egg sized balls
6. Fry in butter on both sides until well browned and cooked in the centre

frikadeller meatball sandwich

remoulade red cabbage crispy onions
To make the sandwich you need the standard Danish condiments pickled red cabbage, bread and butter pickles, crispy onion bits, ketchup, and remoulade. Remoulade is a danish specialty which is difficult to find outside Denmark. Blending tartar sauce with some mustard and finely chopped gherkins is a close approximation. If you live in Toronto Hansen's Danish Bakery on Pape ave sells bottled remoulade from Denmark.
 Slice the frikadeller in halve and serve on a toasted kaiser roll topped with the condiments.

frikadeller meatball sandwich

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  1. So much fun to read about our food-habbits :-)

    My best,
    Birthe from Denmark

  2. Looks delicious! My mom makes frikadellar with a very similar recipe but she usually serves them in a creamy sauce. So yummy!

  3. I just stumbled (happily) across your blog, have bookmarked it and will read it in detail as I have time. I'm a Dane who lives in the US and writes about food as well. I did a cooking demo this summer for a local restaurant and my featured dish was Frikadeller. Which was very well received. Thanks for some great recipes.
    I also have a very well loved copy of Anna Strunge Bagebog published in 1937 as well as a copy of Opskrifter published in 1917 also by the Strunges. Treasures both.



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