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Teamed with a rich egg salad on buttery rye bread, it’s an open sandwich worthy of a knife and fork, says Freyja executive chef Jae Bang.
“Humans are hardwired for connection with others,” says Soren Trampedach, the founder of Work Club, a global collection of premium professional workspaces. “When people come together, their lives and ideas intersect to create an abundance of possibilities.”
Such as smorrebrod, perhaps. The Scandinavian specialty – an open sandwich elevated by luxury ingredients – makes a rare and dedicated appearance at Freyja, which opened in Work Club’s heritage-listed building, Olderfleet, in Melbourne in June.
Billed as a new Nordic approach to Australian dining, Freyja is led by Korean-born executive chef Jae Bang, who moved from Norway’s Michelin-star rated Re-Naa with a headful of ideas that bring depth and complexity to simple, pared-back dishes.
To give restaurant staff better work-life balance, Freyja opens only from Monday to Friday. “The company is very focused on human ecosystems,” says Bang. “It is not just great food, great service and great wine, but how we engage with our guests and how we live our own lives.”
Majestic cathedral windows, marble-topped oak tables and dusty blue leather banquettes set a slightly gothic backdrop for the food, which might include heart-shaped waffles with Yarra Valley Caviar and smoked sour cream, and Milawa duck with mostarda and parsnip.
The very fetching smorrebrod shown here stacks Hawkesbury River school prawns, egg salad and mustard greens on dark rye, and can easily be recreated at home.
“It looks very pure,” says Bang. “But simplifying things is always harder than complicating things.”
Freyja, 447 Collins Street, Melbourne.
School prawn smørrebrød
Degree of difficulty ★☆☆ | Serves 2
“School prawns are small enough to deep fry and eat in their shells,” says Freyja chef Jae Bang. “Teamed with a rich egg salad on buttery rye bread, it’s an open sandwich worthy of a knife and fork.”
- 150g small green school prawns
- 100g rice flour
- oil for deep-frying
- 2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dill sprigs
- 2 slices dark rye bread, 1.5cm thick
- 1 tbsp butter
Brown butter emulsion:
- 100g butter, chopped
- 1 egg yolk
- 30g Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 100ml neutral oil e.g. grapeseed
- Sea salt, tabasco and cayenne, to taste
- Handful of purple mizuna, mustard greens or baby rocket
- Smoked paprika, to taste
To make the brown butter, heat 100g butter in a pan over medium heat, watching carefully until it turns nut-brown and smells biscuity (do not burn). Pour immediately into a bowl and leave to cool slightly.
Whisk the egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice until smooth. Gradually add the oil, whisking continually, as if making mayonnaise. When the oil has been absorbed, gradually add the brown butter, whisking continually until you have a thick, golden emulsion. Season with sea salt, tabasco and a touch of cayenne.
Heat the oil to 180C. Trim the prawns of their whiskers, dry them with paper towel and toss to coat evenly in rice flour. Deep-fry the prawns in small batches, drain on paper towel and season with salt.
To assemble the smorrebrod, lightly toss the chopped hard-boiled egg with 2 tbsp or more of the brown butter emulsion and the dill. Spread the rye bread with butter and fry on both sides until crisp.
Arrange the egg salad on the toast and top with deep-fried school prawns. Dust with paprika and garnish with purple mizuna or rocket.
Note: Remaining brown butter emulsion can be used in burgers, lobster rolls and as a dip for vegetable crudites and fries.
The August issue of AFR Magazine – plus the 36-page Watch special – is out on Friday, July 29 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.
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