You know me, I’m a sucker for anything to do with our culinary heritage. And although the smorgasbord isn’t technically something that originated in South Africa, it arrived here in the fancy 1970s – before I was born, come to think of it – when we South Africans began to develop a more Continental taste. This is the kind of thing you learn when you invite Errieda du Toit, everybody’s favourite “huiskok” (home cook), to breakfast in bed with JAN the Journal. The beauty of a smorgasbord is that it features an array of toppings on pumpernickel rye, so really, it’s a simple way of putting a showstopping platter together with very little effort. These are three of my favourite smorgasbord toppings…

“In South Africa, we experienced a kind of sexual awakening in the ‘70s,” says Errieda while caressing the ornate tray of luxurious open sandwiches before her, “at least when it came to food. Before that, rys vleis en aartappels was the done thing. But we suddenly began to develop a Continental taste. Pumpernickel bread, devilled eggs, salmon, pickled herrings, sour cream and charcuterie; even if we’d only ever been to Plett on holiday, our pots had passports. For the first time, breakfast became sexy, and we were faced with a smorgasbord of options.”


This delicious topping is probably more of an Eastern European Jewish tradition, often enjoyed on a bagel or a slice of rye.


250 g roll mops herring (in the pickling juice)

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

1 small red apple, peeled, deseeded and quartered

juice of ½ lemon

3 hardboiled eggs, halved 

to finish

pumpernickel bread slices (or any bread of your choice)

1 red apple, halved and thinly sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice

1 hardboiled egg, mashed with a fork

chopped parsley


Drain the herring, picking out peppercorns and onions. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Place in the bowl of a food processor and chop roughly (do not turn it into mush). Then, spoon out into a bowl.

Place the onion and apple in the bowl of your food processor (you don’t have to clean the bowl of the food processor between “choppings”) and chop roughly. Add to the chopped herring and add the lemon juice.

Place the eggs in your food processor and chop roughly. Add to the herring and mix well.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours so the flavours can get better acquainted.

Spoon the chopped herring onto your slices of bread. Arrange the sliced apple on top.

Add the hardboiled egg mash and add the chopped parsley.


These days, prawns are such a treat that I would say it’s worth making an occasion of it by making your own mayo.


for the prawns

30 ml olive oil

30 ml butter

1,2 kg tiger prawns, shelled and deveined

1 glove of garlic, finely chopped

squeeze of lemon

salt and freshly-ground black pepper

for the homemade mayo

1 egg

15 ml sherry vinegar

5 ml Dijon mustard

10 ml Muscovado sugar

2,5 ml salt

200 ml canola oil

5 ml lemon juice

to finish

pumpernickel bread slices (or any bread of your choice)

butter lettuce

chopped chives

freshly-ground black pepper


for the prawns

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan. Add the prawns and garlic and fry till they turn pink. Once pink, they’re cooked!

Season with lemon juice, salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Spoon the prawns out of the pan and let them cool to room temperature. 

for the mayonnaise

Place the egg, sherry vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt in a large jug. Blend the ingredients with a hand blender.

Slowly add the oil while you are blending the mayonnaise. Once all the oil has been added and the consistency of the mayonnaise is right, add the lemon juice and mix through.

to finish

Mix the prawns with the mayonnaise.

Place a lettuce leaf on a slice of bread and spoon the prawns into its cup.

Sprinkle with chopped chives and freshly-ground black pepper.

This recipe is a cheat’s version of gravlax, which is salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill. Ribbons of smoked salmon splashed with lemon juice and tickled with dill can have an equally satisfying result, especially when it’s so quick.


200 g smoked trout ribbons

10 g dill, finely chopped

125 g crème fraîche

30 ml lemon juice

30 ml capers, chopped

freshly ground black pepper

to finish

pumpernickel bread slices (or any bread of your choice)

radicchio leaves

thinly-sliced red onion


fresh dill sprigs


Lay the smoked trout ribbons in a single layer on a large tray. Mix the dill, crème fraîche, lemon juice and capers in a bowl. Season with black pepper and mix well.

Spread this mixture on top of the trout. Cover the tray and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.

to finish

Place a radicchio leaf on a slice of bread. 

Arrange the trout on top. Garnish with thinly-sliced red onion, capers and dill sprigs.

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