Why is dryfish so very loved in Iceland
Problems getting people to leave after your party? Try opening a bag of dried Icelandic fish and you´ll be alone before you can say aloha.
Well, that is pretty much what you will be told by friends visiting Iceland and trying this weird looking stuff locals call harðfisk. It literally means hard fish and there is good reason for you to try it
First off if you do like it, and there is actually 50/50 chance you will, you will snack on dried fish for the rest of your trip and dream of dried fish long after you´ve gone. This we guarantee.
Secondly, yes the smell is not very nice and will likely never be tapped on Chanel bottles. But how often have you been surprised by that taste of things that did not look or smell good? If you have traveled much you know how things taste and how things look and smell are two different things.
Thirdly, there are different flavors available and even the difference between same brand can be substantial.
And last but not least; dried fish is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids considered by many as vital for the human body.
There are mostly two types of fish used to make dried fish. The most popular is haddock with its delicate flavor and catfish is also pretty popular. The catfish taste is much stronger and so is the smell.
But why the hell, you may well ask, do Icelanders actually take the trouble of drying perfectly good fish for months on end, hammer it to smithereens and then eat it like candy. Icelanders even offer dry fish at special occasions like the locally famed Þorrablót pagan festival.
It has to do with tradition. Long time ago when there was no way to keep and save the catch the fishermen brought home what was left was hung up and dried for months in order to have some food for the winter.
Making good hardfish is not at all easy. Dry it too long and it looses all taste. Dry it too little and oil and water will make it absolutely disgusting. And the job is not done after drying either. By then the fish is hard as rock and now one has to hammer it to smithereens until the meat gets soft and mellow. This is hard work.
But that hard work is worth it many months later when you grab a piece, dip it into some fat butter and violá! Rightly done dryfish will literally melt in your mouth.
Dryfish is sold in most supermarkets and convenience stores in the country. It is very expensive. A typical bag will set you back around 10$ / 8€ at the minimum. Take note that dried fish is also sold in pieces. This is known as bitafiskur, literally piecefish, and is often less tasty and less smelly than the fillet type.