Fermented Shark 🤢

Shark header comic

Fermented shark is probably on the list of the most misunderstood foods in the world and is a regional delicacy here in western Iceland. MakeFoodSafe took a moment to think about the food shark and what it looks like on this list. It has become so popular that Iceland is one of the few places where you don’t try to rot a shark. Sources: 5, 14, 20

This is because the fermented shark was introduced at a time when food options were limited. When the weather was particularly severe and food was scarce, fermented sharks were created as survival food. Sources: 6, 12

This absurd food preservation action was just one of the many steps Icelanders took to ensure they had enough to survive the year. The fermentation of shark meat can be traced back to the Viking Age, and there is evidence that it dates back to 10,000 years ago. To preserve as much food as possible, the resourceful Vikings developed preservation methods to clean poisonous shark meat. Sources: 4, 17

The shark was stripped of all toxic properties and allowed to start the fermentation process. The shark meat was then sliced and hung for about 7 months to ferment. In the first phase, it is the fermentation process that actually frees the shark from the toxic substances that make fresh shark meat deadly. Sources: 10, 14, 22

The next time you are in Reykjavik, put the fermented shark meat down and start connecting with the Icelandic widow (fermented shark) on your next stop. It’s not classy, but Icelanders feel a few other species, so start getting closer, connect with your Icelandic wibbi and fermenting sharks and get closer. Sources: 7, 20

The traditional method of fermenting sharks is to bury the shark in the ground and then urinate on it so that it can ferment for a month. It is obviously not the only modern method of burying shark meat in gravel and leaving it there for months. If you can digest a bite of fermented shark, join the Rotten Shark Club and learn about the fermentation process from your family’s fishery and receive a certificate. Sources: 14, 19, 21

For Greenland sharks to be safe for human consumption, they must be cooked and fermented for at least three months. Greenland shark meat is toxic to humans and the meat would spoil, so it is cooked or fermented before humans can safely eat it. Sources: 15, 20

Traditionally, shark meat is eaten undercooked in small pieces and fermented until it is ready for consumption. The meat must be consumed after three months of fermentation, as the meat of sleeping sharks is toxic before fermentation. Sources: 11, 18

However, this rotten snack is consumed in tiny quantities; a portion of hakarl is soaked with 1 ounce, and the head and tail are not consumed. With an average Greenland shark of 880 pounds, or 14,080 ounces, the shark can feed 10,000 hungry tourists in a single day and provide an enormous amount of meat. But no one ever had to sit down at a pile of rotten sharks until you ate head and tail. Sources: 15

The crazy thing about the Icelandic Fermented Shark is that the Greenland Shark, the main meat used in its production, is actually poisonous when fresh. Greenland shark meat is poisonous in fresh form, but in Iceland the sharks are decapitated and then buried in a rock – a sandpit covered with sand pits – to get rid of the poison. The Greenland shark swims in the water so cold that its body makes the meat toxic, so it essentially freezes. Sources: 9, 17, 23

The Greenland shark is fermented for 12 weeks and then hung out to dry for several months, which leads to an attack on the senses that can only be described. It tastes a lot like caraway and is mainly due to the fast delivery system and forgetting – which is not so bad if you have eaten fermented sharks with sour ram’s testicles. The sharks are dangerous but consumer-friendly, because they are processed in Iceland in the same way as fresh meat – in sand pits, sand pits and cold water. Sources: 0, 16, 17

Hakarl, which takes its real name hakarl (lazy shark), is a kind of national dish in Iceland, although most Icelanders these days will somehow – to some extent – deny it. Despite the imaginative preparations of today’s top Icelandic chefs, the only thing everyone seems to ask when it comes to “Icelandic cuisine” is shark – fermented shark. Sources: 1, 23

Hakarl is a Greenland shark (or another sleeping shark) that is prepared and then hung out to dry for four or five months. Normally there are Greenland sharks that undergo a certain fermentation process and are buried underground (actually buried) for 6-12 weeks, then hung for 4-5 months or even longer, but this is not usually the case with Hakarl. Sources: 3, 13

Shark meat is cured in a specific fermentation process, dried for four or five months and then hung to dry for 4-5 months or longer. Shark farmers ferment the shark by buying it from the ground for a week, an ancient tradition. Sources: 2, 8

Food: Fermented Shark

https://www.thedailymeal.com/eat/i-ate-fermented-shark-meat-iceland 0

https://rebeccawritestravel.com/fermented-shark-and-black-death-a-traditional-icelandic-pairing/ 1

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https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/11-icelandic-foods 3

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/icelandic-cuisine-hakarl-iceland-fermented-shark.html 4

https://www.facebook.com/foodinsider/videos/how-icelandic-fermented-shark-is-made/748362845720477/ 5

http://pqmiller.agnesscott.org/academic-work/hakarl-fermented-shark/ 6

https://jessieonajourney.com/food-in-reykjavik/ 7

https://johnhendersontravel.com/icelands-hakarl-rotted-shark-isnt-as-hard-to-eat-as-it-is-to-pronounce/ 8

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https://electricbluefood.com/of-rotten-sharks-and-supermarket-food-eating-in-iceland/ 10

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https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/iceland-unusual-food/index.html 13

https://www.makefoodsafe.com/its-shark-week/ 14

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ariellasimke/2020/02/13/is-eating-fermented-shark-in-iceland-sustainable/ 15

https://guidetoiceland.is/history-culture/the-worlds-most-disgusting-icelandic-food 16

https://adventures.is/blog/hakarl-icelandic-fermented-shark/ 17

https://travelfoodatlas.com/hakarl-iceland-smelly-fermented-shark-delicacy 18

https://www.10best.com/interests/food-culture/10-unique-local-foods-you-should-try-in-iceland/ 19

https://current.seabourn.com/article/hakarl 20

https://wakeupreykjavik.com/traditional-icelandic-food/ 21

https://www.nordicvisitor.com/blog/6-thorrablot-foods-for-the-culinarily-brave/ 22

https://www.streetfoodguy.com/eat-hakarl-in-reykjavik/ 23


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