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Oct 05

Plokkfiskur: An Icelandic Staple

 

 

Plokkfiskur

 

 

The month was April and the year was 2013 ~ we were heading to Iceland for the very first time to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of CCP, the gaming whizzes behind the intergalactic MMORPG PvP game, EVE Online. It had all the promises of it being a grand event. Tickets were sold out months before and hotels were being snapped up like hot cakes. Just getting there was excitement in itself, and by the time we landed I was elated to finally set foot on Icelandic soil … and what a place it was too! There are no words to describe that feeling when one lays eyes over the landscape for the very first time ~ Iceland is sparse, imposing and rugged and wild ~ and that is the mental image I will carry around with me forever.

 

 

Iceland Fanfest

 

 

While the boyfriend and his buddies merrily trudged off to Harpa Convention Centre for their daily dose of EVE keynote presentations and roundtable developer discussions, I occupied myself with sightseeing Reykjavic on my own, seeking new and wonderful experiences down solitary laneways and popping into souvenir shops. Obviously, a large part of my time in Iceland was taken up sampling the local cuisine, and we were not disappointed. Whilst their local food can be described as being as rugged as their unforgiving landscape, it is also very very good.

 

Finding something to eat in Reykjavic is not hard for the city center caters to everyone’s palate ~ American style breakfasts, Japanese sushi for lunch and how about Mexican tacos for dinner? But if you want to sample some of the local flavours there are quite a few establishments that cater to the gastronomically curious visitor, and one such place is cafe Loki (Lokastígur, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland). I had heard that this place offers a tasting platter for tourists to try out some of the local food. It was even featured on their Visit Iceland promo video, so I had to go check it out for myself, and this was where I first got introduced to the magical and wonderous plokkfiskur … a simple dish of mashed fish and potatoes served on homemade rye bread

 

 

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 Plokkfiskur – mashed potatoes & fish.

 

300 g mashing potatoes

300 g fresh haddock or cod

50 g unsalted butter

1 tbsp flour

1 medium brown onion, finely chopped

150 – 250 mls water or milk

salt & pepper

chives

 

 

As you can see, this dish isn’t very complex and if you can make mashed potatoes, then you can make plokkfiskur. Ingredients are very basic, and this is the kind of recipe that’s been passed on from generation to generation. It’s warm and filling, and just seems to cuddle you from the inside out …  in a country like Iceland, food like this is very welcome.

 

Start off by getting two pots going on the stove, one filled with salted water for the potatoes, and the other with milk for the fish. I am not 100% sure if the Icelanders prep their fish in this manner, but to me it just makes sense. To this milky poaching liquid I added a single bay leaf and some peppercorns just to give a hint of flavour to the fish and the milk. We will be reusing this milk to mash our potatoes later. Drop the fish into the hot milk and cover tightly. Allow to poach for 10 minutes on a very slow fire … it doesn’t take much heat to fully cook fish.

 

Peel and quarter the potatoes, then drop them into the pot of salted water. Boil them until they are cooked thru and can break up easily when you press them with the back of a spoon. Once they are done, drain them well in a colander.

 

Now get a roux going by melting butter in a pot. Sautee the onion in the butter until transparent and soft but no colour.

 

Add in the flour and cook out the roux for about 3 mins.

 

Add the poaching milk to the roux and keep stirring until you have formed a nice thick white sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Now add all the potatoes and mash with a potato masher. I like to keep some small chunks in there for texture. Once all the potatoes are mashed, add all the fish and mash some more.

 

Adjust seasoning again and you are now ready to indulge in what can only be described as the most incredible comfort foods of all time.

 

 

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To enjoy this fish & potato mash you need to serve it on dense Icelandic rye bread. I couldn’t actually get the authentic stuff here, but thankfully the stores do regularly stock the Nordic varieties, so I bought me some of them. It’s pretty close to the real thing (she said knowingly, in her inexperienced tourist tone). The bread slices are buttered first and then generous amounts of warm fish mash is smooshed onto each slice. Garnish with finely chopped chives and tuck in. Simple yet truly satisfying to the last bite.

 

 

Plokkfiskur3

 

 

If you want a more sophisticated meal, Reykjavic has quite a few famous establishments that serve up extraordinary food … the options are pretty amazing. We had dinner on our third night in Reykjavic at Sjávargrillið , ordered the ten-course banquet menu and were blown away by the high quality of cooking. SO GOOD! Read more on the gastronomic treats of Reykjavic in my other post (click picture below). 

 

 

Iceland Dining2

 

Stunning, stunning Iceland … and we are by no means done with it yet. We would very much like to return and do a proper drive round the entire island and spend a few days up in Akureyri. I still have not seen the northern lights up there; apparently we missed it by one lousy day. Our friends who remained behind texted us the day we left and informed us that they were witnessing the aurora borealis right that very moment. Sigh. Still, what little we witnessed of Iceland’s great landscapes left a huge impression on us and we will never forget it. Ever. I’d go there again simply to see all their waterfalls.

 

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Well if we do manage to return sometime in the near future, I will have to learn more Icelandic recipes and recreate them at home. For now I am quite happy with the result of this dish and it is indeed a great way to have fish with your meal … on toast! R. loved it so much he in fact skipped the toast part and ate the mash straight from the bowl. None left. I was hoping to have some more tomorrow but looks like that ship has sailed. Will have to come up with something new for dinner tomorrow … back to the drawing board then. In the meantime, enjoy this recipe.

 

 

~ Enjoy! ~

 

 

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