This guest post is brought to you in collaboration with one of our partners. We strive to only publish quality content from contributors, and will not publish anything we don’t agree with or do not think you, our readers, will enjoy.
By Stanley Kirchner
As the climate of the island is mainly maritime, changeable, with strong winds- only a quarter of its area is covered with vegetation. Therefore, since the days of the Vikings, different types of meat could be considered as the most common food in Iceland. National dishes are still popular even in the modern big cities of Iceland. We are going to describe four most exotic meat dishes, which are worth trying, during your stay in Reykjavik. In order to start your gastronomic journey to the capital of Iceland, it is best to rent a car at Keflavik International Airport straight away after your arrival to.
In many cities in Iceland, the gastronomic festival, which is called “Þorrablót”, is held in January. During this festival, is as customary to cook and to feast on the very type of the ancient Vikings’ dish – hakarl.
The fresh meat of the polar shark, which is used for hakarl, is having no kidney and no urinary tract, so it is toxic, due to the high concentration of urea and ammonia compounds. However, after the proper preparation, it is becoming very useful and tasty, despite the fact that the characteristic smell of ammonia still stays in the final product. In order to make the meat of this shark digested by the human stomach, the following method of preparation had been found out: the shark meat is cut into pieces and put for 1,5-2 months (depending on the season) in special containers with gravel, or it is just buried into the ground. Then, the meat is taken out, hung on special hooks and left outdoors for 2-4 months’ drying. As soon as the meat is completely covered with crust, it is then removed. Only the core of a yellowish color is left for eating. Traditionally, a small piece of this meat is put on the tongue, bitten through, immediately swallowed and always washed down with the local potato vodka, infused with caraway: a combination of booze and snacks, proven for centuries.
Most commonly, this type of steak is served with lettuce and potatoes. For the sauce – several kinds of sweet-sour jams to choose from. According to the texture, the whale meat is very similar to beef, according to the taste – it is similar to liver. Whether it is a lobster dish or a whale dish, both of them are quite expensive and it is better to find out the availability of whale meat in the restaurant in Reykjavik in advance. The most valuable part of the carcass is the whale fin. It is thought that the very best quality of the meat is around the fin. Nevertheless, cooks also appreciate the tail part of the carcass. In Iceland, people eat minke whales (this is a kind of a whale, which is not in a danger of extinction). It is possible to prepare steaks or kebabs from whale meat, or to eat it raw with wasabi and soy sauce.
Svið is the sheep’s head, which has been cut in half, singed (to remove the hair) and boiled with no brains left. Sometimes it is previously soaked in the lactic acid for the parasite prophylactic. You can try this dish in “Fast and Good” cafeteria in Reykjavik. Here, they serve more than 200 boiled heads of the sheep per week. The eyes are considered to be the most delicious part of the head.
In most countries where puffins inhabit, hunting them is prohibited because of the population’s reduction fears. However, when taking Iceland into consideration- this type of bird still cannot be called “rare” in the country. People catch puffins like the giant butterflies – with the help of special nets. Puffins fly low enough, so catching them is not difficult. In addition, it is possible to smoke or to cook the bird on the frying pan, and it will taste like chicken. Breast of puffin with the berry sauce would taste truly delicious.
This article is contributed by Stanley Kirchner. Stanley Kirchner is an experienced traveler and writer. After spending over a few years wandering the world, he can give an advice to young adventurers on almost any travel destination.