What does smushi mean?

Salmon and wasabi - good for both sushi and smushi - photo by adactio -   CC-BY

Salmon and wasabi - good for both sushi and smushi - photo by adactio - CC-BY

A smushi is a re-invented smørrebrød, a Danish open sandwich given a Japanese sushi twist. The Copenhagen chef who created smushi says he wanted a more “artistic” version of a big, chunky smørrebrød: something to compare with sushi for style, and for size too.

The bread is cut into little squares instead of the usual hearty slices, providing a base for elegantly designed toppings. So far smushi have only added touches of Asian flavour to traditional Danish recipes: like wasabi replacing Scandinavian horseradish. The menu of the Royal Café in Copenhagen says it’s “the idea of sushi – the taste of Danish style sandwich”. Some food writers believe there is scope to take this further. Restaurants in both Japan and Denmark offer delicious fish specialities; perhaps salmon smushi will help create a blend of two different cuisines?

The word smushi seems to catch on well with English speakers. Try saying it yourself and see what you think. It’s already been picked by one English dictionary to be its “word of the week”.

You may even find some in your area before too long. There are plans for a cookbook to appear during 2009, and smushi restaurants are opening this year in Tokyo, Singapore and elsewhere.

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