30/07/2009

Cod tongues – soðnar gellur

The humble cod has been the dominant fish in Icelandic cuisine for centuries. An example of its importance is that there is an Icelandic name for every bone and muscle in the cod's head, more than forty terms in all, and every one of those muscles has been eaten.

Cod tongues aren't really tongues, but rather the fleshy, triangular muscle behind and under the tongue. They are available from all good fishmongers's shops in Iceland, both salted and fresh. When I was working in a salt fish factory in my teens, we could take home all the gellur we wanted for free. Salted gellur need to be soaked in cold water over night.

Take the gellur and scrape off the slime. Drop into boiling water (salted if they're fresh) for 10-15 minutes. Serve with plain boiled potatoes, rye bread and butter.

If there is anything left over at the end of the meal, you can try this recipe with the leftovers:

Fried gellur:

1/2 kg cooked gellur
2 tbs flour
Salt and fish spice mix
75-100 g butter

If you want sauce (I don't)
1/4 litre water
Sauce colouring
Salt and pepper

Roll the gellur in flour into which salt and spice has been mixed and brown in butter in a frying pan. Remove from the pan. Deglaze the pan and add sauce colouring. Cook until it is sufficiently thickened. Pour over the gellur. Serve on toast with fresh salad on the side.

Sometimes I make British fish batter (of fish-and-chips fame), dip gellur in it and deep-fry. Yummm!

Note:
The first recipe is traditional, the second is not.

27/07/2009

Apple compote

200 g dried apples (slices)
1 1/2 liter water
75-100 g sugar

2-3 tbs potato flour or cornstarch
100 ml cold water

Wash the apples and soak in the water with half the sugar for about 12 hours. Cook until soft. Make a paste with the starch and cold water and stir into the compote to thicken. Add remaining sugar, or to taste. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle sugar on top. Serve warm or cold, with cream if preferred.

22/07/2009

Kidney stew

500 g kidneys - sheep, veal or pork
flour mixed with salt, pepper and paprika to taste
50 g butter or frying fat
2 onions, finely chopped
3-4 carrots, sliced
250 g tomatoes

Clean the kidneys and cut each into 4 parts. Coat with spice-flour mixture. Brown in the butter/fat in a saucepan with the onions and carrots. Blanch and skin the tomatoes and add towards the end of the browning time.

Add enough water so that it barely covers the ingredients. Simmer over low heat until the kidneys are tender.

At the end, thicken the sauce with some flour paste and add a little cream if desired, to make a smoother sauce. Serve with potatoes.

This dish is also good with mushrooms.

20/07/2009

Apricot compote

This is a simple and flavourful compote and delicious served with cream.

350 g dried apricots
1 liter water
100-200 g sugar

Wash the apricots and soak in the water with the sugar for about 12 hours. Cook in the syrup that forms during the soaking time, until the compote is thick and the apricots are soft.

13/07/2009

Prune compote - Sveskjugrautur

There are many Icelandic recipes for fruit compotes made from dried fruit, some mixed, some using one particular fruit. Most common are apricot, prune and apple compotes. I have already posted a recipe for mixed fruit compote and compote of fresh rhubarb, and will be posting more over the next few weeks. These compotes are good both warm and cold, and are usually served with cream or half-and-half. They can be bought ready made in most supermarkets.

For those who like to do things themselves, here is a recipe for prune compote.

250 g prunes with pits
1 liter water
2-4 tbs sugar

3 tbs potato flour or cornstarch
100 ml cold water

Wash the prunes and soak in the water for about 12 hours, then cook in the water they were soaked in, until they are soft (if using prunes that are already soft, skip the soaking part). Remove pits. Add sugar to taste. Make a paste of starch and cold water and stir into the compote to thicken. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle sugar on top and serve warm or cold. Good with cream.

07/07/2009

Crowberry soup

Crowberries grow all over Iceland and can in fact be found in many areas in the subarctic and temperate zones, including Denmark*, Alaska and northern Canada (according to Wikipedia, they are also found in the Andes). They are well worth picking because they make delicious jelly, a good drink concentrate**, taste good fresh with skyr, and then there is this soup:

1/2 to 1 kg crowberries, well ripened
1 litre water
1 cinnamon stick

2 tbs potato flour or cornstarch
100 ml cold water

100 g sugar, or to taste

Pick over the berries, removing any under-ripe berries and other unwanted objects (may include twig pieces, leaves, moss and spiders - that is assuming you didn't go to Vínberið*** and buy the berries already cleaned) and clean under running cold water.

Cook the berries in the water with the cinnamon stick for 20-30 minutes. Strain and re-heat to boiling. Mix potato flour/cornstarch and water into a paste. When the soup boils, stir in the paste and let boil again. Add sugar to taste. Serve warm with zwieback.
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Notes:
* I tasted Danish crowberries once, and they didn't have nearly as much flavour as the ones that grow in Iceland, and neither were they as juicy. I'm guessing it's the soil that makes the difference.

**you can also make crowberry wine.

***a grocery and confectionery shop in Reykjavík and the only local shop where I have seen crowberries for sale.