Muffins recipes

National dish of Iceland

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  • Independence: 17. 7. 1944
  • Capital: Reykjavík
  • Official language: Icelandic
  • Population: 319 575
  • Area: 103 001 km2
  • International code: IS
  • Currency: Icelandic króna (ISK)
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  • shark
Hákarl is national food (dish) of Iceland


Don't try this at home unless you know what the end product is supposed to taste like. Although cured shark is putrefied and thus technically spoiled already, it can go bad and give you food poisoning.

Take one large shark, gut and discard the fins, tail, innards, the cartilage and the head (BTW, a very healthy oil is processed from the liver and used as a food supplement). Cut flesh into large pieces.Wash in running water to get all slime and blood off. Dig a large hole in coarse gravel, preferably down by the sea and far from the nearest inhabited house - this is to make sure the smell doesn't bother anybody. Put in the shark pieces, and press them well together. It's best to do this when the weather is fairly warm (but not hot), as it hastens the curing process. Cover with more gravel and put heavy rocks on top to press down. Leave for 6-7 weeks (in summer) to 2-3 months (in winter). During this time, fluid will drain from the shark flesh, and putrefication will set in.

When the shark is soft and smells like ammonia, remove from the gravel, wash, and hang in a drying shack. This is a shack or shed with plenty of holes to let the wind in, but enough shade to prevent the sun from shining directly on the shark. Let it hang until it is firm and fairly dry: 2-4 months. Warm, windy and dry weather will hasten the process, while cold, damp and still weather will delay it. Slice off the brown crust, cut the whitish flesh into small pieces and serve, preferably with a shot of ice-cold brennivín. The modern method for curing shark relies on putting it into a large container with a drainage hole, and letting it cure as it does when buried in gravel. Cured shark smells worse than it tastes. The texture is somewhat like a piece of fat, the colour is a dirty white/beige, and the taste reminds some people of strong cheese with a fishlike aftertaste.


Hákarl is a food from Iceland. It is a Greenland- or basking shark which has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months. Hákarl is often referred to as an acquired taste and has a very particular ammonia-rich smell and fishy taste, similar to very strong cheese slathered in ammonia. Hákarl is served as part of a þorramatur, a selection of traditional Icelandic food served at þorrablót in midwinter. Hákarl is, however, readily available in Icelandic stores all year round and is eaten in all seasons.

The Greenland shark itself is poisonous when fresh due to a high content of urea and trimethylamine oxide, but may be consumed after being processed (see below). It has a particular ammonia smell, similar to many cleaning products. It is often served in cubes on toothpicks. Those new to it will usually gag involuntarily on the first attempt to eat it due to the high ammonia content. First-timers are sometimes advised to pinch their nose while taking the first bite as the smell is much stronger than the taste. It is often eaten with a shot of the local spirit, a type of akvavit, called brennivín. Eating hákarl is often associated with hardiness and strength. It comes in two varieties; chewy and reddish glerhákarl (lit. "glassy shark") from the belly, and white and soft skyrhákarl (lit. "skyr shark") from the body.

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