Look No Further: Icelandic Salted Fish Recipes!

Imagine a world where bread stands aside, making way for the robust flavours of salted fish. That’s right – we’re talking about Iceland, a place where the gusty sea winds have shaped a culinary tradition unlike any other. While “harðfiskur,” the dried and sometimes beaten fish treat, holds its own special place in the Icelandic food scene, our story today is about a different delicacy.

The 18th century in Iceland marked the dawn of a salty revolution – the preparation and consumption of salted fish. As time marched on, this wasn’t just about preserving fish; it was about perfecting an art. Royal edicts summoned foreign experts to Icelandic shores, all with the intent of exchanging secrets and mastering the finest techniques. Among the methods that emerged triumphant was the “Terraneuf method,” also known as the Newfoundland method. Freshly caught fish were pampered, to say the least – bled, flattened, and rinsed in rapid succession. This pre-salting prep ensured that every bit of moisture was drawn out before the fish embarked on its salty transformation.

Today, Icelandic salted fish stands as a testament to centuries of culinary evolution. It’s not merely a dish; it’s a narrative of culture, perseverance, and innovation. Curious about more tales from the Icelandic seas? Our blog dives deep into stories, including that amusing tiff between Spain and our beloved fish.

But for now, brace yourselves! We’re setting sail on a culinary journey with our Icelandic Salted Fish Recipes. Our first port of call? A guide on preparing Icelandic salted fish, followed by recipes that promise a taste of the North Atlantic right on your plate.

How to Rinse Salted Fish

To prepare your salted fish, begin by placing it in a sizable vessel and pouring cool, fresh water over it. Aim for about 3 litres of water for every kilogram of fish, swapping the water out three times during this initial wash. If you choose to keep the tap running, a day should suffice for the rinsing. For a more hands-on method, refresh the water twice using five litres per kilogram, and then give it another rinse 36 hours later with 5-6 litres. But if you’re opting for a stagnant approach without changing the water, you’ll need a whopping 18-20 litres for each kilogram! For those chunkier cuts, make sure you give them a little extra soak time. Once all that’s done, either chill or freeze your fish right away if you aren’t cooking it straight away.

Bacalao con Chanfaina – A Spanish Salted Fish Dish

Photo: Paz.is

With these easy steps, learn how to make Bacalao con Chanfaina, a delicious Spanish-salted fish dish.


  • – 700g saltfish steak
  • – 1 dl flour
  • – 1 dl cooking oil (for frying the fish)
  • – 2 green peppers
  • – 2 red peppers
  • – 2 onions
  • – 3 cloves of garlic
  • – 1 can of Hunt’s tomatoes with roasted garlic
  • – 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • – 1 dl olive oil
  • – 2 tbsp. something sweet (honey, simple syrup, agave syrup and so on)
  • – 1 fish stock cube
  • – Parsley for decoration if desired (optional)
  • – 2 tsp. table salt
  • – Black pepper


1. Cut the peppers and onions into strips, lengthways. Crush the garlic.

2. Cut the salted fish heads into pieces and place them on kitchen paper to remove moisture.

3. Roll the salted fish in flour and fry with cooking oil in a pan until golden brown on both sides. Do not salt the fish.

4. Clean the pan and put olive oil in it. Add the onion and salt with part of the salt from the 2 tsp. Stir regularly until it softens.

5. Add the garlic and stir periodically until everything is very soft. Ensure the onions do not burn.

6. Take the onion out of the pan and set it aside.

7. Place the peppers in the same oil as the onions and salt with part of the salt. Fry until they are very soft.

8. Pour in Hunt’s canned tomatoes, tomato puree, sweet, fish stock cube, and salt. Pepper well with black pepper, add the onion and stir everything well.

9. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 35-40 minutes. Cover and stir regularly.

10. Take the fish and carefully arrange it on the vegetables. Pour sauce on the fish pieces.

11. Allow simmering for an additional 10 minutes.

A variation of the traditional boiled salted fish

Photo: Matarauður Íslendinga

Boiled good Icelandic potatoes, slightly cooled and chopped. Put in the bottom. Salted fish boiled and cleaned. A stand of chopped onions and carrots, here more is better, fried in a pan in good oil, shredded salted fish and put in. This is put over the potatoes. Prepared equally, seasoned with nutmeg, a good amount of freshly ground black pepper and egg yolk put in raw at the end. Put over. Grated cheese on top.

It is good to prepare each portion separately and bake in the oven, e.g. In pretty little white porcelain bowls or shells, refrigerate and reheat when consuming, and serve with a fresh salad or a salad with mayo dressing and garlic bread.

Mayonnaise dressing: mayonnaise, sour cream and juice. Small baguette with garlic butter and grated cheese. The key to a good dish gaining popularity is freshness and care in preparing this dish. It can be refrigerated for several days.

Hopefully these Icelandic salted fish recipes made your mouth water enough for you to try them out – if you do, please let us know how it went!

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