Did you know that the national dish of Iceland is Hákarl or Hákarl. This is the food of real Vikings! In fact, this dish is rotten and dried shark meat. This dish is prepared specifically. And not everyone can eat it. Hákarl, or food for true warriors, is the heritage of Icelandic cuisine.
The meat of the Greenland Shark or Basking Shark is chopped into pieces and then buried in the ground or gravel, leaving it there for 6-8 weeks! Why do they do this? The fact is that these sharks do not have kidneys or any urinary tract other than the skin. Therefore, urea and ammonia are concentrated in the meat, making it extremely toxic. It is precisely thanks to the process of draining juices and “light” rotting that toxic products are eliminated as much as possible in this “natural” way. Subsequently, the meat is taken out and dried on hooks for another 2-4 weeks. At the same time, the “aroma” of the ripening Hakarl can drown out even a fly that accidentally flies by. Dried meat is covered with a crust, which is cut off until the meat is yellowish. The meat is chopped and it is a finished product.
Hakarl's taste is very specific
Those who have ever tried Hakarl know how “specific” its taste is. A truly rugged Icelandic dish for true Nordic people. Having tasted the national dish, you can involuntarily feel like a real Viking, a real hero!
What we need to know about Hakarl or food for real warriors
- The tradition of preparing Häkarl dates back to the Viking era. This dish served as an important source of nutrition for the Vikings during the long winter months when other food sources were limited.
- Despite its specific taste and smell, Hákarl is a popular dish of the national cuisine of Iceland and even has its own holiday dedicated to this dish. February 16th is Hákarl's Day (Þorramatur), when many Icelanders gather to taste this delicacy.
- In Iceland, Hákarl is often served with traditional alcohol called Brønnevín (or Snaps), which creates an even more authentic Viking experience.
- Hákarl is often considered a "touchstone" for tourists visiting Iceland. Many of them decide on this exotic culinary experience to try something unique and completely different from their usual cuisine.
Note that today there are various methods for preparing Hakarl, and some of them are more modern and less “aggressive” than the traditional method of drying in soil. This allows the dish to retain its unique taste, but soften the unpleasant aroma. If you're in Iceland, be sure to try it!