The Icelandic Kitchen: 5 Classic Foods You Didn’t Think of Trying

Like A Local Guide • 17 Dec, 2014

Apparently everyday food in Iceland isn’t as exotic as one might think. Plenty of weird dishes are eaten during Þorri (a month-long celebration that begins in the 13th week of winter), such as rotten shark, dried fish and sheep testicles, while on Christmas Eve, many people eat rotten skates (the more rotten, the better). At other times, however, Icelanders are quite civilised with their food. What might come as a surprise to many is that Iceland is something of a fast food nation. Icelanders have come to love their burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and, more recently, kebabs. Still, our Reykjavik local Jonas has managed to put together a list of classic Icelandic foods that you probably wouldn’t think of trying, but definitely should!

1. Hot dogs!

Can you believe that the favourite restaurant of many Icelanders is the local hot dog stand? Yes, we know you can get hot dogs just about everywhere and that they’re considered the national food of countless nations. Nevertheless, Icelanders are extremely proud of their pylsa! For an authentic Icelandic hot dog experience, you should order yours with all the added extras: ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remoulade. To order like a local, shout “eina með öllu” (one with everything) when it’s your turn.

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Photo credit: Tomi Knuutila

2. Boiled salted fish with hamsatólg

Hamsatólg is sheep fat that has been melted, solidified and then melted again. Doesn’t sound very appetising, right? Well, most Icelandic families have this at least once a month, and find it perfectly normal and delicious. Jonas even mentioned that he had never really considered the absurdity of pouring sheep fat over fish until a foreign visitor pointed it out to him. Even though it might seem wrong, it tastes so right. Unfortunately the best place to eat the real thing is at the home of a local. Homemade is definitely the way to go with this one.

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Photo credit: siglo.is

3. Sheep’s head

It is what it sounds like – the boiled head of a sheep, usually served with mashed potatoes or beets. The story behind it is simple – in earlier times when food, especially meat, was scarce, people had to use every part of the animal. The eyes of a boiled sheep are considered a true delicacy among some older Icelanders. Here’s the best place in Reykjavik to try it!

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Photo credit: Wikimedia

4. Skyr

Skyr has been part of Icelandic food culture for centuries. It’s essentially a cultured dairy product similar to yoghurt, only it’s not yoghurt. Technically it’s more of a soft cheese, but definitions don’t really matter because if served right – with milk, sugar and fresh blueberries – it’s heavenly. As for its nutritional value, skyr is considered a superfood, being rich in protein, calcium and various vitamins. You can find it at any local supermarket or food store, and nowadays there are even flavoured versions.

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Photo credit: Gudlin Ingvarsdottir

5. Plokkfiskur

Plokkfiskur literally means “mashed fish”, though it’s more of a stew. It used to be a classic leftover dish in Iceland – on Mondays you had fish, on Tuesdays you had fish stew. It’s traditionally served with potatoes and dark rye bread, and is another one of those dishes that’s best homemade. Most local fish restaurants probably serve it, but no locals actually eat it out and would likely be given funny looks by waiters if they tried ordering it.

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Photo credit: Natalie Rose

Opening photo: Homemade skyr with orange marmalade (credit: FelinusNoir)

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    If you are traveling in Iceland and looking for the food then you should try for the Traditional Icelandic food because it is very famous and is a delicacy today. Here we will consider some famous Iceland food you should try without being afraid fermented shark, icelandic dried fish, icelandic cuisine, hakarl, and many more.
    Robert Wood • Apr 16, 2018 • Reply
    […] you get hungry, grab an authentic Icelandic hot dog or try some more traditional dishes such as boiled sheep head, rotten shark or salted fish cooked in sheep fat. You won’t get […]
    Top 10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations to Discover in 2016 | Travel Tips from Real Locals – Like A Local Guide • Nov 10, 2016 • Reply