November 21, 2020

Icelandic Delicacy

Timothy Birdnow

Sounds like what they were serving in my old grade school cafeteria...

From Andrei Piriutko:

Hákarl [ˈhauːkʰartl̥] is a national dish of Iceland consisting of a Greenland shark or other sleeper shark which has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months.
Chef Anthony Bourdain described fermented shark as "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" he had ever eaten.

On season two's Iceland episode of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Andrew Zimmern described the smell as reminding him of "some of the most horrific things I've ever breathed in my life”.

Chef Ainsley Harriott, during his series Ainsley Eats the Streets, was unable to handle the heavy ammonia taste and described it as "like chewing a urine-infested mattress".

Fermented shark contains a large amount of ammonia and has a strong smell, similar to many cleaning products. Those new to it may gag involuntarily on the first attempt to eat it because of the high ammonia content. First-timers are sometimes advised to pinch their nose while taking the first bite, as the smell is much stronger than the taste. It is often eaten with a shot of the local spirit.

The meat of the Greenland shark is poisonous when fresh because of its high content of urea and trimethylamine oxide. Properly processed, however, it may be consumed. The traditional method begins with gutting and beheading a shark and placing it in a shallow hole dug in gravelly sand, with the now cleaned cavity resting on a small mound of sand. The shark is then covered with sand and gravel, and stones are placed on top of the sand in order to press the shark so that the fluids are pressed out of the body. The shark ferments in this fashion for 6–12 weeks depending on the season. Following this curing period, the shark is then cut into strips and hung to dry for several months. During this drying period a brown crust will develop, which is removed prior to cutting the shark into small pieces and serving.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 09:07 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 I've eaten shark, years ago, before I realized that they reproduce like humans: they carry their young in their wombs and birth them one at a time, unlike "modern" fish who lay eggs and produce a huge number of fish each time. This is why sharks are endangered species and should not be caught and eaten.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at November 23, 2020 11:58 PM (20lgM)

2 In my best Johnnie Carson voice "I did not know that!" I too have eaten shark; in fact, I used to buy it and grill it on "the barbie" years ago. It was good when fresh but bad if you ever reheated it.

Of course, all sharks are bad if they set out to eat you. That is a case of eating a critter that can eat you back!

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at November 24, 2020 07:52 AM (1UEIk)

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What colour is a green orange?

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