10 Must Try Icelandic Food
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Iceland has been the rage of late possibly due to Frozen 2 and we would be foolish to not check out what this country has to offer. In terms of food. Because we believe food plays an equally important role in promoting a country’s country and we want to know what this frozen tundra has to offer our tastebuds. But first a short introduction to the country itself.
Famously known as the Land of Fire and Ice (which sounds like it should be the setting of Game of Thrones), Iceland is an island born out of volcanic eruptions over millions of years. Fast forward many years later and here we are now, gifted with one of most scenic and untouched icy lands in the world. In fact, because of its northern location, majority of its land is covered by glaciers than all of Europe. Reykjavik, its capital is the world's most northern capital. Twice every decade, the country generally experiences volcanic eruptions which spews more lava onto the landscape. Europe's largest waterfall, Gullfoss, is also located in Iceland.
Everyone knows about Iceland’s dramatic natural scenery but little do people know of its equal dramatic cuisine. Taking advantage of the ingredients they have around them, Iceland food tend to be natural with less GMOs and artificial ingredients. Think free-roaming sheep, fresh cod and char. If you’re ever in Iceland, this is the list to follow for must try food and dishes.
1. Fermented Shark
Hakari aka fermented shark is the national dish of Iceland and automatically a must try for visitors and tourists. Despite being the national dish, you will be surprised to learn that the consumption of this dish relatively low even amongst the locals. It was more commonly eaten back in the day when refrigerators weren’t invented yet. However, it’s worth giving a try at least once during your trip for the sake of saying you have tried it.
2. Hot Spring Rye Bread
The concept of this dish baffles to the rest of the world but despite what its name sounds like, it doesn’t mean eating it in a hot spring. This popular Nordic bread can be found easily in groceries around the country. But what truly makes it unique is its baking method – by burying near the hot springs. The natural method of baking results in a sweetish dark bread that goes well with other Icelandic meals.
Most would be familiar with puffin as the web browser or that weird looking bird. It almost never occurs to us that in Iceland, this seabird is another national dish known as Hakarl. It is one of the delicacies on the Icelandic food menus throughout the country. It tastes close to beef and has a distinct seafood taste.
4. Fish stew
Known as Plokkfiskur in Iceland, it is a traditional Icelandic dish prepared from boiled cod or haddock mashed together with the white sauce, onions, and potatoes. Icelanders love to fish and they always use fresh fish which is no exception in this dish. This famous fish stew is also served with dark rye bread and butter.
A local spirit which is similar to unsweetened schnapps. It is the country’s national alcoholic beverage and taste close to vodka. The drink is famous during the Porrablot winter festival.
A marriage between yogurt and cottage cheese, Skyr is the way to go if you want to eat like a local. Made from pasteurized skim milk and a bacteria culture similar to yogurt, this thick and creamy delicacy is often served with cream and tart berry jam and tastes a bit like Greek yogurt and creme fraiche. You can eat it with sugar, but most locals love it au natural.
7. Icelandic Hot Dogs
You must be thinking – why go all the way to Iceland for hot dogs?? But almost everyone online and offline has recommended their hot dogs. Unlike the usual sausages, the types over there are made from a blend of lamb, pork and beef encased into natural casings. To top it off is of course, the toppings. A magical combination of ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onions, raw onions and remoulade sauce (mayo and sweet relish).
8. Icelandic Meat Soup
Ah, perhaps the best thing in a chilly country like Iceland – hearty hot meat soup. This flavourful stew is a concoction of lamb, root vegetables, rice and herbs and as many Icelanders would agree, the best thing to sip on when the day turns overcast. I am sure many Asian would agree as this easily resembles our signature ABC soup.
9. Dried Fish
In the local language, Harðfiskur literally means hard fish, an Icelandic delicacy that most locals love. It may sound gross to many foreigners, but it is Iceland´s favorite snack. Locals eat it with salted butter while watching a movie. It is thought to be a healthy alternative to chips or popcorn.
10. Sheep Head
Okay, out of everything we have so far, this has got to be the most outlandish dish on the list. But don’t be thrown off by the presentation. Every part of the Svio or sheep head can be eaten. Some might argue that the cheek and tongue are the best while others will say it’s the eyes. Icelandic sheep are not fed on grain or growth hormones and have a natural diet, hence giving it a more refined taste not unlike lamb or mutton.
Of course, there are more…otherworldly things to eat in Iceland such as blood pudding and ram testicles. But we believe this list is a good as any to give you that head (pun intended) start.
Sources: Vogue, Discover Island, BBC.