Icelandic Cuisine – The Traditional Dishes of Iceland

Perhaps you know a few things about Icelandic cuisine already or maybe it is brand new to you. Some Icelandic food sounds strangely unappetizing, such as burnt sheep heads and sour rams’ testicles, but there are also some very tasty dishes like Icelandic smoked lamb.

Before 1000 AD, ten thousand Norse colonists arrived in Iceland, which is one of the most northerly countries in the world. Because of the cold, few things were able to grow or live there, apart from sheep and arctic foxes, so Icelanders and the Norse settlers had to live on anything they could find.

Strange Icelandic Food

Something that you might not be keen on trying is “hakarl” which is rotten shark. The light-colored pieces have a stronger flavor and this dish is made by burying a shark in sand for six months. The flavor has been described as a cross between strong cheese, ammonia, and rotten fish.

Another curious Icelandic dish is “svid” which is burnt sheep head. A sheep head has the wool burnt off to make this dish. It is then split in two to take out the brain, and boiled.

Another dish, which you might not fancy trying, is “hrutspungar.” To make this Icelandic treat, rams’ testicles are pickled in whey before being combined with gelatin and pressed into a pate or a cake. For “hvalrengi,” fresh whale blubber is mixed with milk to give it a sour flavor. Seal flippers are also soured with milk and salted to make “selshreyfar.”

Tasty Icelandic Dishes

The above dishes might not sound too appetizing but it is true that Iceland also has some delicious foods, such as “hangikjot” which is smoked lamb. This is the traditional Icelandic Christmas dish and the lamb is smoky, salty, and really tender.

Marinated herring is another nice Icelandic food. Herring is marinated in tomato sauce, mustard, or vinegar. Pepper, spices, and onion are usually added and this is enjoyed on a slice of rye bread.

Recipe for Icelandic Liver Patties

This is a tasty dish, which is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, onions rings, and green peas. You might like to serve a fried egg on the side too. If you like liver, you should like this Icelandic liver recipe. You might not need all the flour or all the milk.

What you will need:

  • 1 lb lamb liver
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 onions
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

How to make them:

Remove the blood vessels and membranes from the lamb liver and chop it. Peel and chop the onions and potatoes and combine them with the liver. Add the baking powder, spices, and enough of the flour to make the mixture thick.

Stir in the egg and thin the mixture to a porridge-like consistency with the milk. Drop a tablespoon of the mixture into a hot skillet and fry both sides until it is firm. Repeat until all the mixture is used and serve hot.