The preparation of Icelandic rotten shark dish is equally sophisticated and ‘horrifying’.
Iceland is an island nation located in the North Atlantic Ocean with unique culinary specialties made from fish. Among them, the most unique and ‘weird’ dish is Hákarl – a rotten shark dish made from Greenland shark meat (this animal has an average length of 7.4 meters and weighs 770 kg). The Viking ancestors invented Hákarl with a unique, natural way of processing. Although it is popular in Iceland and is a specialty introduced to tourists, some people love it, others… run away as soon as they smell Hákarl, let alone try it.
Greenland shark with giant size.
Because Greenland sharks live in cold waters, their bodies must secrete a special substance to keep them warm, preventing them from freezing. This substance is extremely toxic to humans. So if you want to process shark, you must find a way to remove all the toxins.
The Vikings discovered that burying sharks under sand and rocks for several weeks could remove toxins and preserve the meat. After 3 – 6 months, when the fish meat goes through a cycle of freezing and thawing, they will dig up and hang the carcass upside down in the wind, for at least 9 months. From there, the recipe for making Hákarl shark was born and has been passed down to this day.
Hákarl dish has a way of preparation that makes you not want to eat it.
During the drying time, the meat will begin to rot, and the toxic uric acid layer will gradually dissolve. Hákarl producers said that the drying process will end when they see that the meat has enough flavor and the outer shell is crispy brown. Finally, just cut off the brown meat, take the white meat inside, and we have a specialty dish.
The Hákarl part is white inside.
Famous chef Anthony Bourdain once commented that Hákarl had the ‘worst, most disgusting, horrible’ taste he had ever eaten. Many tourists come here to try Hákarl and say it ‘has the taste of nightmares’ with a scent like urine, rotten cheese and even… corpses. Many people vomited right after putting a piece of fish in their mouth, but some people say that if they close their nose and just eat without smelling, this dish is quite delicious, the meat is soft and sweet.
Hákarl is popular in Iceland.
On the culinary show F Word, super chef Gordon Ramsay tried a piece of rotten Hákarl shark meat and immediately spit it out and vomited, making the whole studio awkward.
Video: Gordon Ramsay struggles with Hákarl dish. Source: The F World.
Try putting it in your mouth…
… And 2 seconds later, Gordon Ramsay couldn’t take it anymore.
Today, Hákarl is still made in the traditional way and sold in grocery stores throughout Iceland. Not simply a dish, Hákarl is the pride and culture of the people here. But if you have the opportunity to try this dish, you should make up your mind in advance…