When visiting Iceland, it's important to explore the traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations. These dishes not only provide a glimpse into Icelandic history and culture but also offer a unique gastronomic experience. From hearty stews to preserved meats and unique baking methods, here are some of the must-try traditional Icelandic foods:
1. Plokkfiskur - Fish Stew
One of the staple dishes in the Icelandic diet is Plokkfiskur, a hearty fish stew commonly enjoyed during the winter months. This delicious dish combines boiled cod or haddock with mashed potatoes and onions, all enveloped in a creamy white sauce. Each family may have their own variation of this traditional dish, making it a truly authentic culinary experience.
2. Hangikjot - Smoked Lamb
Sheep farming is a significant part of Icelandic culture, and smoked lamb, known as Hangikjot, is a national favorite. The lamb is traditionally smoked by hanging it, resulting in a unique and rich flavor. During Christmas, smoked lamb takes center stage, served alongside red cabbage, boiled potatoes, green peas, and Icelandic leaf bread. Indulging in this dish allows you to savor the traditional flavors of Iceland.
3. Hardfiskur - Dried Fish
For a quick and authentic snack, try Hardfiskur, dried fish that has been naturally dried in the harsh North Atlantic air. Cod, wolffish, or haddock are commonly used, and the dried fish can be enjoyed plain or paired with salted butter. It's a popular choice for locals, often compared to popcorn and enjoyed as a movie snack. Sampling Hardfiskur allows you to experience the unique preservation methods of Icelandic cuisine.
4. Rugbraud - Hot Spring Rye Bread
Rugbraud, or hot spring rye bread, is a traditional Icelandic bread that is baked using geothermal heat. The bread is placed in a pot or wooden cask and buried near a hot spring, allowing the natural heat to slowly bake the bread to perfection. The result is a crustless loaf with a deliciously sweet flavor. Enjoying Rugbraud alongside other Icelandic dishes adds a touch of authenticity to your culinary journey.
5. Flatkaka Med Hangikjoti - Flatbread with Smoked Lamb
Flatkaka Med Hangikjoti is a simple yet delicious traditional Icelandic dish that you can easily recreate at home. The flatbread dough, made with lukewarm water and rye flour, is fried on a hot stove. It is then topped with smoked lamb, cream cheese, or lamb pate. This dish showcases the versatility of Icelandic cuisine, combining traditional ingredients in a unique and flavorful way.
6. Pylsur - Icelandic Hot Dog
Icelandic hot dogs, known as Pylsur, are considered some of the best in the world. They are a popular street food in Iceland and can be found at the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand in Reykjavik. Made from fresh Icelandic lamb, these hot dogs are served on warm buns and topped with raw onions, crispy fried onions, ketchup, remoulade, and pylsusinnep (brown mustard). Trying an Icelandic hot dog is a must for any food lover visiting Iceland.
7. Humar - Icelandic Lobster
If you're looking to indulge in a luxurious Icelandic delicacy, Humar, or Icelandic lobster, is a perfect choice. The cold waters surrounding Iceland are home to some of the finest lobster in Europe. Whether it's served fried, grilled, baked, or as a topping on a pizza, Icelandic lobster is a culinary experience that should not be missed.
8. Hrutspungar - Ram Testicles
For the adventurous eaters, Hrutspungar, preserved ram testicles, are a traditional Icelandic delicacy. Preserved in gelatin or whey, this dish may not be for everyone, but it is a testament to the resourcefulness of Icelandic cuisine. Hrutspungar is a unique and bold culinary experience that showcases the diversity of Icelandic food.