I came across an excellent potted history of Icelandic cooking, on the website of the cooking magazine Gestgjafinn and decided to post a link. It was written by Icelandic food and cookery doyenne Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir. Do read it if you are interested in the traditions and influences in Icelandic cookery.
I thought it was about time to post a recipe, since I remembered a very old, traditional one I have not posted before.
For 1 person:
2-3 fresh cod’s stomachs
1 cod liver
White pepper (optional)
There are two basic methods of making kútmagar. In one you use rye meal and in the other you don’t.
Since I don’t expect you can buy fresh fish stomachs just anywhere and may therefore have to buy or catch whole fish and then remove the stomachs, I have included instructions on how to clean them: You take them and rub them inside and out with sand or coarse salt until you have removed the slime and anything else that may stick to them.
Soak the liver in cold water for a while (30 minutes or so), then remove and peel off the membrane.
Sprinkle salt over the liver and let it stand awhile (10 minutes or so).
Method one, with rye meal:
Mash or grind the liver and mix thoroughly with rye meal. No recipe I have come across gives proportions of liver to meal, but don’t use more rye meal than liver – it will cook into a dry lump if there is too much of it. Add salt to taste and a little white pepper if you like. Stuff the stomachs a little less than half-full with the mixture and tie them closed with unbleached cotton thread. Bring a generous amount of water to the boil, add salt and drop in the stomachs. When the water boils again, prick the stomachs with a pin to prevent them from bursting. Put the lid on the pot, lower the temperature and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Method two, no rye meal:
Chop the liver into small pieces and stuff the stomachs with it, about half-full. Bring a generous amount of water to the boil, add salt and drop in the stomachs. When the water boils again, prick the stomachs with a pin to prevent them from bursting. Put the lid on the pot, lower the temperature and simmer for 45-50 minutes.
Serve hot with plain boiled potatoes, rye bread and butter.
- Fish stomachs may be cooked without a filling and eaten straight away or pickled in whey.
- I am told that they can be used as a substitute for squid in various dishes.
- If you want more ways of cooking them, they seem to be widely used in east Asian cookery. I get over 6 million hits when I google "fish stomach" and recipes together, so there is plenty to choose from.