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Icelandic har­fiskur Recipe

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This recipe for Icelandic har­fiskur is from The Bjornson Cousins Family Cookbook Project, one of the cookbooks created at We'll help you start your own personal cookbook! It's easy and fun. Click here to start your own cookbook!


5-15 pieces of whole fish such as cod, haddock, seawolf or ling (although most non-fatty fish will do)
A wooden meat mallet.
A good ventilated spot, like a cliff on the shore or an isolated area in your garden (your balcony might do the trick if your neighbors can stand the smell).
A few two-by-fours or pieces of wood to build a drying rack. A wash line could work, but the fish might slip off.
Chicken wire to build a small fence around your rack; not to keep the fish from escaping but rather to keep predators such as seagulls and cats from entering.
Nails, twine, a hammer and saw.
Patience and good weather.
This is what Ava would have used.

Start by cleaning the fish in cold water. Remove the intestines and cut of the heads. Fillet the fish but keep both sides connected by the tail. This way you end up with two joined fillets.

Set up your drying rack. Har­fiskur is usually dried on racks made of two tripods with a bar across. Two poles with a wash line can work just as well though. Most proper drying racks are built with roofs to keep the rain out. If you have cats or other critters in your neighborhood you might want to build a fence around your drying rack.

Once your drying rack is ready, fling each double fillet across the bar with ample space between them. Make sure the fillets do not touch each other. Leave the fish to dry and check on them every other day to make sure the process is going well. Like I said, you want ample ventilation and lots of wind. Spring and autumn are perfect seasons, whereas winter and summer will obviously spoil your fish. You want your fish to dry, not to rot or freeze.

After a few weeks, depending on your climate, your fish should be all yellow and hard and look very unappetizing. This is good.

Gather all your dried fish and lay them out on a workbench or kitchen table. Next, get a wooden meat mallet and pound the fish for a few minutes or until it is white. If all went according to plan, the fish should now be soft and ready. Now, tear of a piece, smear it with some salted butter and have a taste..

Ver­i ■Úr a­ gˇ­u! (May it do you good!)

Personal Notes:
Personal Notes:
I can remember many an afternoon watching Ava with his har­fiskur. They were always drying on the porch of the "summer kitchen". They always had a gazillion flies on then and their oder, well, you can just imagine. Personally, I never really acquired a taste for them. Although I did try on many an occasion to choke down a piece or two sitting with my Ava in the afternoon sun after coffee, or after dinner.
I think maybe cousin Carol and Jim should hang some of this just off their back deck overlooking the lake or at the Hunting cabin and we could all come down for a feast?




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