An Introduction to Icelandic Food

While it might not inspire delicious images of steaming buttery dishes or melting goodness in your mouth, Icelandic Food is underrated and actually very, very, very yummy. Here are a few of our favorite things we tried and one recipe that has become our family’s staple meal.


Before coming to Iceland my first association with Icelandic traditional food was dried up fish and whales. The visit to Iceland helped me put that stereotype to rest. Yes, they have plenty of fish, but then there is also sheep and one of their delicacies is a boiled sheep’s head. While the cuisine is not be as acclaimed as French or Italian, it is still delicious and far better than just dried up fish. 20130905_190816

We’d been living on pasta and any food you can make in a camp for over a week, but for our last night on the island, we decided it was time for someone else to take over the hob. We were busy exploring the wildness that are the West Fjords and after a windy day, we were up for cozy homemade meal. We consulted TripAdvisor and chosen one of the few restaurants in the town of Isafjordur, Tjoruhusid.

TripAdvisor rates Tjoruhusid as the best resturant in Isafjordur – we agree.

There is actually not much to it, both the interior as well as the exterior are all about the Icelandic minimalism – a wooden hut, with nothing but a few tables and benches. But the atmosphere and the food was beyond awesome.

Either that or we might have been so hungry as we walked into the restaurant the very second they opened. At first it was strange sitting alone on those long benches, but in about half an hour the place started filling up. In around 45 minutes, there was no more room and we were all sitting snuggly next to each other. 

IMG_20130905_185623There was no menu to brows through, you only have a few dishes to choose from and they depend on the luck of the fishermen. Whatever they caught that they – you can have on your plate. The waitress recites the what fish is available and how chef prepared it.

For starters you can get the boiled fish with potatoes – kind of a fish stew accompanied with the rye bread or a soup. We were starving so we picked both. The main course consisted of the wolf fish in some kind of creamy sauce with potatoes.


To say we enjoyed our meal would be an understatement. We loved it. The only downside I could think of was that we were stuffed full and couldn’t finish it all.

For the lack of the better word it was delicious, as you could really taste how fresh the fish was and how creative the recipes. It wasn’t just plain old traditional fish, it was a five star meal. I have no idea, what they did with it, but there was chili in the soup and cream in the stew while the main course was just perfection. I am getting hungry just remembering it all.

When the following day we traipsed through Reykjavik, we looked for the Icelandic cookbooks hoping to find a recipe to at least one of the lovely dishes. We found the one for the stew. And we tested it back home with the girls – it marks the first time they ate all the fish and asked for more.

The recipe for Fish Stew: 

20131027_162910Fish stew – Plokkfiskur

about 700 g cooked fish
about 500 g cooked potatoes
50 g butter
50 g flour
750 ml milk
ground pepper/ salt – season to taste
1 medium sized onion,

Any kind of cooked fish can be used, we used cod. After you cook it, remove all skin and bones from the fish and flake with a fork. Cut the potatoes into small pieces. To make the sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir the flour into it, until smooth and thick. Continue stirring and add a small amount of milk. When the mixture boils, add more milk. Repeat this process until all the milk is used up. When the sauce is ready, add the fish and potatoes and mix through. We also added onions.
They serve it with their lovely rye bread.

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