Icelandic cuisine is among the most unique in the world, and you will want to bring a healthy appetite with you to savor and sample as much as you can while you are there. From fish and lamb to cheeses and ice cream, here are five foods you won't want to miss out on.
1. FERMENTED SHARK
Have you ever watched Andrew Zimmer and said to yourself, "I wonder if I would eat that if given the opportunity?" If that sounds familiar, then here's your chance to be a hero and take a bite out of something unexpected. Fermented shark, or hákarl , is a bit like roast duck; it isn't something the locals eat every day, but rather something that is brought out when special guests come to town.
As a tourist, you are the special guest who is expected to give this a try. This dish is a throwback to the past to the days before refrigeration when pickling was the only way to preserve foods. Made from Greenland shark or other "sleeper" species, you won't be eating Jaws, but rather his slower cousins who are not on the endangered species list.
2. Icelandic Salmon
Salmon is a staple food in Iceland, and you will find plenty of dishes that contain this scrumptious fish. Icelandic salmon is some of the largest in the world — they regularly dwarf fish that come out of Alaska, Montana, and pretty much any other popular fishing ground in the world. When ordering salmon, choose those that are caught in the wild since they taste better and support the local fishing population.
Skyr is a soft cheese that's similar to Greek yogurt. This rich and hearty snack is extremely healthy and will fill you up without making you feel like you've put on the freshman 15. Icelanders put Skyr on lots of foods, and you'll see people eating it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack. The good news about Skyr is that if you develop a taste for it, you will find it back home as the company has built a strong international presence, such as Siggi’s.
Rugbraud is rye bread that rivals any that you will find in Western Europe. However, unlike most rye bread that is baked in an oven, Rugbraud is placed in a pot and placed beside a hot spring to bake. This gives the bread a distinctive flavor that only Mother Nature could cook up. It's perfect for sandwiches or for dipping into soups and sauces during a meal.
5. Hot Dogs
Icelanders love hot dogs, and there’s no shortage of places where you can find some spectacular versions of this simple treat. There are some who say the Icelandic hot dog is the best in the world and beats anything you will find in New York City, Coney Island, or a major league ballpark.
The dogs are made from lamb, beef, and pork and have a delicious flavor owing to diets that are comprised of natural grasses, berries, and leaves. When you order, be sure to load it up with pylsusinnep which is an Icelandic sweet brown mustard or remoulade. Both are excellent choices that accentuate the natural flavors of the meat.