Food in Iceland
"Rotten Shark, Sour Rams Testicles and Sheep Head..."
That's what a lot of travelers expect to see on their dinner menu when visiting Iceland!
And don't get me wrong - it definitely can be if you want to.
But I'd much rather recommend you to explore the surprisingly delicious food and drink scene in Iceland!
FOOD IN ICELAND
Photo taken from 'Reykjavik Food Walk'
The food in Iceland is surprisingly delicious.
Our two most popular local cuisines that you absolutely most try while in Iceland:
We can't get enough of our delicious lamb. It's absolutely amazing.
Fun fact: There are 3x times more lamb then Icelanders on our small island (around 800.000) and we've figured out a variety of different ways to cook, prepare and enjoy them!
Most steakhouses in Iceland will offer lamb steaks. Which have a similar flavor as beef but a lot more tender.
It's also possible to enjoy cured lamb (really flavorful and delicious) and one of my favorites, the traditional Icelandic lamp soup.
Both of these cuisines are included in the awesome Reykjavik Food Walk tour.
If you'd like to do some Icelandic cooking of your own then below you'll find the recipe for a brilliant Icelandic lamb soup!
FRESHLY CAUGHT ICELANDIC FISH
Fishing is currently (and has been for decades) one of our biggest industries.
That may not come as a surprise to many since we're a small island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean surrounded by ... you guessed it.
A lot of fish!
The variety of fish and seafood cuisines found in Iceland are almost endless.
Having lived in Iceland my whole life, I've eaten a lot of fish. My current favorite Icelandic seafood cuisine at the moment is Freshly Caught Arctic Char with almonds and fresh Icelandic vegetables.
Our most commonly caught fish that you'll find everywhere is Cod.
Eating plain cod is great. But the BEST, most traditional way to have it is in a 'Traditional Icelandic Cod Stew.'
I'm getting hungry just talking about it.
In my younger days, I would have a batch of freshly cooked Cod Stew whenever I would visit my grandmother. That girl can cook.
We include the very best, most traditional Icelandic cuisines in our food tour that we host every single day. And luckily for all our guest, we include both freshly caught arctic char & Icelandic Cod Stew.
I've also included a brilliant recipe below of the Cod Stew for anyone that would like to cook it at home :)
SOUR TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC FOOD
Every year, from mid-January to mid-February, we celebrate Þorrablót. (pronounced 'Torrablot')
or as I like to call it:
'Nasty Food Month'
Þorrablót is a mid winter festival we're we'll celebrate our past by eating food that was common in the 'old days'.
It's a strange mix of both fun and disgusts.
Common cuisines during Þorrablót are:
- Fermented Rotten Shark
- Dried Fish Jerky
- Sheep Head
- Blood Pudding and liver sausage
- Rams testicles
Sounds fun. Right?
If you're in Iceland during January or February and would like to get your hands on some super sour food then I would recommend visiting Íslenski Barinn or Matur & Drykkur.
FERMENTED ROTTEN SHARK
For some reason, the fermented rotten shark gets the most hype out of all the sour cuisines above.
Most Icelandic restaurants will have it on the menu all year round for travelers and locals to try.
Fun fact: The traditional way of fermenting shark is to bury it in the ground and then urinating on it before letting it ferment for months.
Luckily, we've improved our fermentation process.
Today, the shark is buried and then hung to dry for approx. 5 months. Which sounds a lot better then covering it with human urine if you ask me.
The fact that shark smells like ammonia alone doesn’t’ stop a lot of locals from devouring this delicacy of Greenland shark, fermented and hung to dry for almost half a year.
Fermented Shark & Rye Bread
WHAT IS BLACK DEATH / BRENNIVIN?
Brennivín is made from a mix of fermented grain, potato mash, and caraway seeds - so those that have tried Akvavit before, will definitely notice some similarities in flavour.
This is without a doubt the most traditional spirit found in Iceland and an absolute must try for all travelers.
It's most commonly thrown back as a shot and not often had after swallowing a cube-sized bite of hákarl (fermented shark.)
TWO ICELANDIC LOCAL RECIPES
TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC LAMB SOUP
Approx. 3 L water
2.5 kg lamb meat on bone
1 small onion
Approx. 5 cm leek
Approx. 5 spoons soup herbs
Approx. 2 spoons salt Black pepper
1. Put water in a pot, cut the meat into pieces and remove the fat if you prefer.
2. Put the meat in the pot and let the water boil.
3. Cut down the vegetables as small as you want.
4. Mix everything in the pot together and let it boil for approx. 60 min.
5. Enjoy a hot and nice lamb meat soup with nostalgia from the amazing Iceland.
ICELANDIC COD STEW
Plokkfiskur, a combination of fish, potatoes, onions and béchamel sauce is a firm favourite in Icelandic kitchens. It's a traditional dish and a true comfort food.
800 g cod or haddock
½ onion, peeled and diced.
½ cube of chicken stock
2 bay leaves
50 g butter
300 g potatoes, peeled and diced into cubes.
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
200 ml milk
Place the fish with the onion and bay leaves in a saucepan containing cold water. Bring to the boil, remove from the stove and put to the side. Melt butter, stir in the flour, and then add the milk as well as 100 ml of the water that the fish is sitting in.
Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper to the mixture and bring this sauce to the boil, until it thickens. Sieve the water from the fish and onions, and add them to the sauce along with the potatoes and mix all this together well. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Plokkfiskur is traditionally served with rye bread on the side.
I really hope you enjoyed this blog post!
Feel free to drop me a comment below if you have any questions. Or if there is anything at all that I can help you with!
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