How About a Nice Plate of Fermented, Ammonia-scented Shark Meat?

Move over, Surströmming, there's an even more challenging fish dish, this one from Iceland. Hákarl is one of Iceland's national dishes, and if you cannot pronounce it, it is fermented shark. Specifically, it is the meat of the Greenland shark, which has a high urea content and is toxic when fresh. But if you bury it for a few months, then dry it for a few months more, the meat is edible. That doesn't mean it is pleasant. The smell is stronger than the taste. Anthony Bourdain, possibly the world's most adventurous eater, called it "unspeakably nasty ... probably the single worst thing I've ever put in my mouth." Gordon Ramsey tried it and spit it out. Many people in Iceland won't even try it.

How in the world did people begin processing shark meat this way? It may go back to the Vikings, who discovered how to consume Greenland shark by accident. Read about the possible origins of Hákarl and how it is used today at The Takeout. 

(Image credit: Jóhann Heiðar Árnason

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