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smushi

noun [uncountable]

a savoury snack consisting of very small squares of bread topped with fish, cheese and vegetables, etc

'Smushi is a take on the popular Danish open-faced sandwich known as smørrebrød, and was described to me as an open-faced sushi sandwich …'

Food & Wine Magazine 27th June 2007

2007 saw the launch of a new savoury snack which seems almost as much fun to say as it does to consume – if you're feeling peckish, why not bridge that gap with a little smushi?

giving the Danish institution of smørrebrød a sushi twist is not as crazy as it seems

Though a combination of Danish and Japanese cuisine might seem weird at first sight, smushi is in fact a fusion of two very popular bite-sized dishes which makes perfect sense. Take the Danish smørrebrød, an open sandwich with assorted fillings, and reduce it to the size of sushi, the Japanese snack consisting of bite-sized pieces of cold boiled rice, raw fish and vegetables. The result is smushi, an assortment of tiny squares of bread exquisitely layered with toppings taking inspiration from Asian cuisine.

Giving the Danish institution of smørrebrød a sushi twist is not as crazy as it seems. Both dishes typically include raw fish such as salmon or tuna. Danish horseradish can be easily substituted by Japanese wasabi, a paste made from the same root vegetable family and often described as 'Japanese horseradish'.

Though this logical fusion of dishes originated in Copenhagen, Denmark, it is now becoming increasingly popular in East Asia, with dedicated smushi restaurants recently opening in Singapore and Tokyo.

If you'd like to hear more about smushi and see some smushi treats being assembled, then take a look at this video.

Background – smushi

Smushi is the creation of Danish restaurant owner Rud Christiansen, who launched the idea in 2007 at Copenhagen's Royal Café.

Like the dish itself, the word is a blend of sushi and smørrebrød. Smørrebrød (from Danish smørre 'butter' and brød 'bread') is a traditional Danish sandwich consisting of a buttered piece of rye bread (a dense, black bread) topped with cuts of meat or fish, cheese, and vegetables. Sushi is the original Japanese 'fast food', invented in Japan during the 19th century. It consists of small cakes of cold boiled rice which are shaped by hand or wrapped in seaweed, and then topped with pieces of raw or cooked fish, vegetables, or egg.

Smushi follows a trend begun in the 1970s for what is referred to as fusion cuisine, a style of cooking which combines elements from various culinary traditions.

In a related context, the term gastronaut came into use in the mid eighties as an informal description of someone who is adventurous or creative with food. The expression is a blend of the suffix -naut, often used to form nouns referring to voyagers or explorers (e.g. astronaut, aquanaut) and the prefix gastro-, which originates from the Greek word for 'stomach' and appears in many words associated with food and eating (e.g. gastronomy, gastroenteritis).

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 4th August 2008.

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