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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Icelandic Cuisine

Icelandic Cuisine
Iceland offers a fine variety of all kinds of food produced locally. The quality is excellent, in part because of a very clean environment.Fish dishes are made from Icelandic fish caught in the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Icelanders mostly eat haddock, plaice, halibut, herring, trout, salmon, lobster and shrimp.

Fish is usually dried, smoked, salted or baked and commonly prepared with garlic. Hakarl in Icelandic means shark. What we are talking about here is rotten shark meat which is part of the borramatur, the traditional seasonal Icelandic food. Known for its pungent taste and smell of ammonia, eating hakarl is associated with hardiness and strength. It is often accompanied by brennivin, a local schnapps.

Hakarl is a Greenland or basking shark which has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for 4-5 months. Hákarl has a very particular ammonia-rich smell and taste, similar to very strong cheese. It is an acquired taste and many Icelanders never eat it. It is, however, readily available in Icelandic stores all year round and is eaten in all seasons.

One of the most eaten meats is lamb. Lamb dishes are usually served with mustard sauce or cut in fillets. The others are horse and beef. Reindeer meat is considered a special delicacy and is usually very expensive. Small game mostly consists of seabirds (Puffin, Cormorant and the Great Black-backed Gull) and waterfowl (Mallard, Greylag goose and Pink-footed Goose). Since the meat of some seabirds contains fish oil it is placed in a bowl of milk overnight to extract the oil before cooking.

Dairy products are very important to Icelanders. There are over 80 types of cheese made, some of which have won international awards. Available vegetables are cabbage, potatoes, rutabaga, salad, turnips, tomatoes and cucumbers. Iceland relies on imports for fruit except for wild berries.

Brennivin and various types of vodka are the most consumed beverages in Iceland.

Appetizers: Baked cod in leek sauce made with white wine and cream, Fish Pate made of ground fish in a shrimp sauce consisting of heavy cream, fish broth and Icelandic shrimp, Fish Balls made of ground haddock fillets formed into balls and fried usually served with a brown or tomato sauce, Lamb Pate, marinated herring with juniper berries and Icelandic brennivin-schnapps and Salmon Tartar with coriander, caviar and lime-sauce.

Soups: Bread Soup made of rye bread, raisins or prunes, lemon and whipped cream, Egg Soup with eggs, milk and vanilla, Meat Soup with lamb, potatoes, leek, carrots, turnip, celery and rice, Lu Usupa Icelandic Halibut Soup with halibut steaks, white wine vinegar, prunes, butter, flour, lemon and sugar, and a Traditional Fish Soup made of flounder and salmon fillets, Icelandic shrimp, red onion, celery, fish stock, sherry or port, tomato puree, dry white wine and heavy cream.

Meat dishes: Beinlausir fuglar with thin slices of lamb, beef or horse meat rolled up with bacon and simmered, Lamb Fricassee with vegetables (Lambakjot meth graenmeti) small pieces of lamb boiled with cabbage, carrots and turnips, Liver patties (Lifrarbuff) made of ground lamb’s liver, potatoes and onions and Puffin in milk sauce.

Fish dishes: Cod Stew with cod fillets, potatoes, garlic and a Hollandaise sauce, Cooked Herring with Lemon Sauce and Potato Ring in a lemon sauce, Lightly Boiled Salted Cod (Baccalau) with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and a garlic sauce and Whole Salmon with Beets and Apples.

Traditional Fish Soup
For 6-8 pers :
3-4 tbsp butter or oil
1 red onion, cut in julienne
½ leek (white part only) cut into thin slices
1 stalk celery, cut into small pieces
2 quarts fish stock or mild chicken stock
250 ml (10 oz) heavy cream
2-3 oz dry sherry or port
1 small can (70 g/2 oz) tomato puree
5-6 strings saffron
1-3 tbsp vine vinegar (f. ex. tarragon)
½ cup dry white wine
8 oz Flounder fillet, cut into small pieces
8 oz salmon fillet, cut into small pieces
6 oz Icelandic Shrimp (salad prawns)
salt and white pepper
Melt the butter in a pot, add all the vegetables and sweat for 4-6 min. Add the stock, cream, sherry, tomato puree, saffron, vinegar and white wine. Boil for 6-8 min. Add the fish and bring to boil again, add the prawns. After this the soup may not boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a little butter would not harm.

Cooked Herring with Lemon Sauce and Potato Ring
2 lb Herring
Potato ring:
1 1/2 lb potatoes
1 Grated or chopped Onion
2 Slices white bread
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/4 c butter
salt and pepper to taste
Lemon sauce:
2 tb butter or margarine
2 tb flour
2 c fish broth
2 egg yolks
1/2 ts salt (if fish broth is not sufficiently salted)
Juice of 1 lemon
Peel potatoes and cook until soft. Drain and mash or rice the potatoes. Cover bread with milk and let stand for a few minutes. Mix together the potatoes, grated onion, bread, and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Add melted butter and beaten egg yolks. Beat egg whites stiff and fold in. butter a ring mold and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Put potato mixture into mold and bake in a moderate oven (375F) until nicely browned. Turn out on serving platter. While potato ring is baking, clean, bone, rinse and fillet herring. (Frozen Herring fillets may be used.) Cut fillets in pieces and cook in boiling salted water only until tender. Carefully remove and drain herring and place in center of potato ring. Pour lemon sauce over herring and serve. For lemon sauce: Melt butter or margarine and add flour. Stir until well blended. Add fish broth slowly, stirring constantly. Beat egg yolks and add salt. Add to sauce, a little at a time, stirring briskly. Do not boil after eggs are added. Add strained lemon juice. By Rasma Raisters

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