Often when people are thinking about what to have for dinner they ask: Do you want Thai, Mexican, Indian…?
I guess there is a reason why it´s not a common thing people don´t ask if they should have Icelandic for dinner. Maybe because they don´t know much about Icelandic kitchen or maybe because what they hear is that we eat sheep’s head and balls, whale, shark that has been pissed on and hearts from the foals.
I got interviewed for an Estonian online Food Magazine about Icelandic food some time ago. Here you can read it if you speak their language but read on for the English translation if you want to know more about Icelandic food:
Interview – Perenainee.ee
What are the typical Icelandic foods?
Typical Icelandic food is a salted cod, smoked lamb and skyr which is a milk product similar to yogurt. And we eat lots of hot dogs. In February we celebrate Þorri, a festival honoring the god in Norse paganism, by eating food in the spirit of the old Icelandic kitchen, food like putrefied shark, ram’s balls, bold sheep’s head, dried fish, blood pudding made from lamb’s blood and suet, rye bread and flat cake. That kind of food is not popular and is by most people eaten only once a year for a festive reason.
What kind of berries, mushrooms etc can be picked in Iceland? Do people like this berry-picking, is it popular?
We have lots of berries, mostly blueberries, crowberries and currant ribes. It is common to pick berries in the fall and make jam of it. We have lots of rhubarb that we also use to make jams and pies. Picking mushrooms is not very common but we do have many kinds of mushrooms, though not all of them are eatable. So you need to know the once you can pick.
What kind of (dark) bread do you make in Iceland? Do you also have some bread with rye?
We have two types of ryebread, one called rugbraud and other is called, flatkaka, which is a flatbread, usually served with butter and a thinly sliced smoked lamb.
We know about an Icelandic dark bread which is sweet and sticky (very tasty!), how typical and/or popular is that?
That dark and sweet bread is rugbraud. It is very traditional and popular, served with plokkfiskur, a traditional icelandic fish stew. It is also popular to eat it with pickled herring. The ingredients of rugbraud (ryebread) are rye, flour, buttermilk and lots of syrup. Some bakers bake the rye bread in a hot spring or buried in a sand close to a hot spring and kept there until fully cooked.
What are the recent trends in Icelandic food sector (anything such as “local food” trends in the UK)?
The recent trend in Iceland now is the new nordic kitchen. The manifesto of the new nordic kitchen is:
1. To express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region.
2. To reflect the changing of the seasons in the meals we make.
3. To base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters.
4. To combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.
5. To promote Nordic products and the variety of Nordic producers – and to spread the word about their underlying cultures.
6. To promote animal welfare and a sound production process in our seas, on our farmland and in the wild.
7. To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products.
8. To combine the best in Nordic cookery and culinary traditions with impulses from abroad.
9. To combine local self-sufficiency with regional sharing of high-quality products.
10. To join forces with consumer representatives, other cooking craftsmen, agriculture, the fishing, food , retail and wholesale industries, researchers, teachers, politicians and authorities on this project for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries.
For example Estonian kitchen has many impacts from Russian and German kitchen, does the Icelandic kitchen have some impacts from some foreign country?
Now a days we are influenced from all over the world with easy access to all kinds of products in the supermarkets like, Indian, Tex Mex, Italian and Asian food. But traditionally we have been influenced from the Danish kitchen, for example with the open sandwiches, called smorrebrod and the herring.
Do you have some local food magazines also? How popular is food blogging among Icelanders?
We have one food magazine, called Gestgjafinn. (Translation, The Host). It has been on the market for 30 years now and is an ambitious magazine. Food blogging is getting more and more popular.
What are your personal favourites from the Icelandic kitchen?
My favorite food from the Icelandic kitchen is the salted cod served with freshly picked Icelandic potatoes and lots of Icelandic butter. The fish in a white stew Plokkfiskur is also my favorite and a must to serve it with the sweet rye bread, Rúgbrauð.
Do you have some popular cake, dessert etc you can also share a recipe ?
Icelandic rye bread – Flatkaka (Flat “cake”)
- 200 g rye flour
- 100 g whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 -3 dl boiling water
Blend all ingredients together, pouring the water in little at a time. Make little balls and flat them out in a round cakes. Poke the cake with a fork few times. Bake it on a hot pan for about one minute each side. Put them in water after cooking and store them in a plastic bag or under a wet towel to keep them moist and soft.
- 500 gr haddock
- 5-6 medium size potatoes
- 1 onion (or couple of spring onion)
- 25 gr butter
- 2-3 tbsp flour (or barley)
- 2,5 – 3 dl milk
- 1 egg
Boil the fish in one pot and potatoes in another. Put aside.Take a bit of the butter and melt it, brown the onion. Melt the rest of the butter in the pot with the onion and add flour and whisk together until it´s like a massive bun. Add the milk (and maybe some of the water the fish was boiling in if you like) until it´s thin enough (similar to a creamy soup or a pancake batter). Take the skin off the potatoes and cube them. Take the fish, we want no bones, no skin, and put it in the sauce, throw in one egg and stir a bit with a spoon. Salt and pepper, I like quite a bit of pepper. You can use any type of pepper you like. Usually people used white pepper because they didn´t sell many brand back in the days, but I use fresh black pepper. Simmer for few minutes and then serve with rye bread.