I am now three weeks in, and for the first time, I needed to cook a meal from an unfamiliar cuisine. I had to do a lot of research for this week’s meal choice and I learned one very important thing: most Icelandic food needs months of preparation. So, because I haven’t been planning this for that long, and I was just cooking for myself this week, I decided to forgo the attempts at Porramatur, a traditional Icelandic buffet, which can consist of everything from cured lamb testicles to fermented shark meat.
Iceland foods traditionally consisted of mainly animal products and root vegetables. Though dealing in a lot of trade, most of the food came from what they had on the island. Lamb, fish, and dairy products dominated the cuisine and though their tastes as evolved to include more variety in vegetables and less emphasis on fish, I still decided to use the traditional for my inspiration.
To start, I needed to pick the center of my meal: the protein. I wanted to make fish because seafood is something I have been trying to explore more recently. I only started eating seafood a few years ago and I have been eager to try out different kinds of fish as well as interesting ways to prepare it. I finally settled on haddock since that is a popular Icelandic fish and there were some excellent looking fillets at the grocery store. Always a good start. Along with fish, dairy is probably the biggest part of Icelandic cuisine. Skyr, a very popular traditional dish, is a cultured dairy product made from raw milk and has the consistency pf strained yogurt. Even though I didn’t have any skyr, I used it as the inspiration for preparing my haddock. I coated the fish in yogurt, breaded it, and pan seared it.
Here’s a little tip from me to you: if you are unsure how to tell when the fish is done, the best way is cook until the fish flakes apart with you try to flip it!
Vegetables in Iceland are hearty and earthy. I chose to make potatoes with mushrooms and a cabbage salad. I made the cabbage real easy by just chopping it up and adding some salt, pepper, and a touch of red wine vinegar.
As for the potatoes, I just boiled them and then finished them in the skillet with butter and mushrooms and parsley.
Though it was no boiled goat’s head or hákarl (cured and fermented shark), I feel like my dinner was Iceland inspired, but with my own personal twist!
Icelandic cuisine has many Danish influences, so logically, next week I’ll be exploring Denmark! Stay tuned!