So what is Icelandic cuisine? Icelandic food mainly consists of lamb, potatoes, fish, and all sorts of other seafood. A lot of seafood. Of course it’s all about the seafood since Iceland is surrounded by Arctic waters. They do have the best cod, monkfish, herring, stake, salmon.. the list goes on. However, when visiting Iceland there are a few things you must consider trying, the EXOTIC MEATS: Minke whale, puffin, horse, and reindeer. So here is a guide to Icelandic cuisine when visiting Reykjavík, Iceland.
Minke Whale & Puffin
Minke whale & puffin can be found at many high end restaurants. They usually are in the form of a steak, kebabs or seared like ahi tuna. Apparently Minke whale is not an endangered species. So if you’re adventurous and interested in trying it once, go for it. The texture can be quite different depending on how it’s prepared. A puffin is too cute too eat! But how could I eat them? Well, I had to try it once and did not regret it. I tried both at two restaurants:
Fish Market: Upscale dining. The whale tasted like steak which was pretty tasty. Puffin was a bit chewy. I highly recommend making reservations.
Tapas Barinn: Casual tapas restaurant. I recommend ordering the tasting menu which offers 7+ tapas dishes. My favorite dining experience was with Tapas Barinn. Both the whale and the puffin were delicious here! I enjoyed the flavors and how it was prepared. The puffin came with a blueberry sauce which complimented the dish very well! I highly recommend making reservations.
Other Meats To Try
I had tried reindeer steak at Fish Market and it really was tasty! It tasted just like steak. There are other exotic meats that I did not get to try: horse, sheep’s head and fermented shark. Fermented shark is a national dish of Iceland that has been fermented and hung to dry for 4-5 months (I was not willing to try that). Icelanders also praise that their lamb is the best. It really was good, very tender and not as gamey in flavor.
Skyr is made of pasteurized skimmed milk. I thought this is yogurt but technically it’s not yogurt. Its more of a soft cheese. It’s rich and thick but very healthy. It can be purchased throughout Iceland’s grocery stores but surprisingly I never had the urge to try it.
The famous hot dog stand called Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in downtown Reykjavik across the harbor. This stand is famous given that President Clinton visited back in 2004 and ordered a plain hotdog with just mustard. So what makes this hot dog special? It’s made with lamb along with pork and beef. I ordered mine with everything!
Buy as much Icelandic chocolate as you can to bring home for friends and family members.
Have you been to Iceland? What did you think of Icelandic cuisine?