Ever heard of Hakarl? If you have not heard of this fine delicacy then you do not share my love of all things both weird and wonderful in the culinary world! If you’ve read any food blog about godawful foods, Hakarl is usually right near the top of the list.
But, what is Hakarl? Simply put, Hakarl is the fermented meat of a Greenlandic shark, but let’s get into a bit more detail about how Hakarl is made.
Hákarl, or to give its proper name kæstur hákarl (rotten shark) is a kind of national dish in Iceland, although these days most Icelanders will tell you it is mainly for tourists.
Greenland Shark meat is poisonous when fresh, so in Iceland, they behead the shark and then bury it in a sandpit covered by rocks to get rid of the poison. The shark then ferments for 6-12 weeks before being dug-up, cut into strips and hung out to dry for up to 5 months in a barn. Said barn will now stink of ammonia — like really stink — and this is where Hakarl gets its noisome reputation.
The way to then consume it is to eat a cube on a toothpick, then chew it for 30 seconds, before chasing it with Brennivin, the local moonshine of Iceland. Legend has it the shot was used to neutralize any poison left. Nice!
So where in Rekjavik can you eat Hakarl? In reality, there are lots of places, but my top two places are as follows.
1) Reykjavik Fea Market
If you want to be a cheap ass then you can go to the flea market, where they have Hakarl on a stick that you can try for free. A very good start — and free — but without the option of a shot to chase it down.
2) Icelandic Street Food & Craft Beer
The best street food in town, and you can do Hakarl and Brennivin for about 1000 Icelandic Krona, or about $7. And after you’ve done that, you can get food from next door, or head downstairs for a comedy show. Can’t say better than that!
So, that’s the story of Hakarl and where you should eat it in Reykjavik. To sum up, though: the Street Food Guy has a stronger stomach than most, but Hakarl really isn’t all that bad!