Do Icelanders like seafood? I think that is a silly question actually to ask a small island nation surrounded by sea. An interesting question would be do they eat more than Asian nations??? Or what actually do they like to eat. I’m not even going to go anywhere near the issue of who eats more, it is irrelevant and as we touched upon last week, different cultures have their preferences. What I can say with out doubt is that the Icelanders love their grub.
Most of the traditional Icelandic food revolves around fish, dairy, bread, potatoes, and lamb and the roots of their culinary delights come from the Scandinavian cuisine after Norse Vikings settled there during the 9th century and onwards. Today, food from all over the world is widely available at the restaurants in the capital city Reykjavik and other cities. But, most of the restaurants specialize in seafood with an emphasis on quality of products with a focus on traditional ways of cooking. That’s what we will concentrate on here, as now is the season and we have the products on hand and available in Hong Kong.
You may think it’s cold and windy here in Hong Kong. My goodness the temperate is fluctuating between 14°C an 19°C. In Iceland now, it’s a blustery -2°C to 2°IcelandivC. So, what’s needed is a good fish stew. This is a very traditional dish in Iceland and is known locally as “Plokkfiskur”. It consists of boiled cod or haddock filets with potatoes, either mashed and scrambled. It’s probably the most appealing Icelandic dish for most visitors. For the locals, it used to be a way of preserving leftovers, but today it’s a common dish that the families usually have their own version of.
All the fish are now available, and there are some 340 species available around the big island. My favourites at this time of the year are the skrei cod, basically the first of the cod coming into season. Beautiful pristine and fatty so brimming with flavour. The Icelandic mackerel is also at its best now. So, if you can get it, go for it. However, the Japanese with the appreciation of seafood already have this product sussed and most of the new catches will be going to Japan.
Another favourite is boiled cod head. Not my cup of tea actually. This is similar in concept to the fish head curry in Singapore. However, in Iceland, the cod head is generally poached in chicken stock, glazed with a blow torch (it looks like a bronze sea monster) and served with potato salad and lovage, a plant which is hugely popular there. The best bits are the cod cheeks so they say
In addition to these goodies, three species of Salmon can be found in Icelandic rivers and lakes. The fish that’s being served in Iceland’s restaurants are often very fresh, and could even be the catch of the day. In Hong Kong, you are more likely to get hold of the Artic char, a delicious freshwater fish with a mild flavour without having a strong fishy taste. Again sublime in its taste and texture with smaller flakes, its high fat content and mild flavour making it an excellent choice for grilling, broiling or smoking.
So, there you are. Please try these wonderful fish and the recipes are there to help you.
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