Recipes from Greenland


Well it was autumn here for a few days, so I was ready for a little bit of food from a frozen land. But then Ms. Weather changed her mind and we're looking at another week of 80+ temperatures. Lame.

I really love the summer, but when the kids go back to school and the Halloween decorations come out, I'm done. I'm ready for hot chocolate and for that damned swamp cooler to come down out of the living room window so I can have my view back.

So this would have been a great October meal, if it had actually seemed like October when I was cooking it.

Greenland as you know is a massive big chunk of ice up there in the Arctic Circle, or more accurately just partly in the Arctic Circle. Greenland is an autonomous country but it is actually within the Kingdom of Denmark. It is also the world's largest island, and the least densely populated country in the world.

I would not have actually guessed that it would be tough to find recipes from places like Greenland and the Faroe Islands. It is in fact particularly difficult, but not for the reasons you would imagine. There are actually resources online for Greenlandic recipes but because of its location, Greenland doesn't use a lot of what we would consider "standard" ingredients like pork and chicken. I'm guessing, though I can' t really say for sure, that this is because the chickens and pigs would all turn into vaguely chicken- and pig-shaped icicles if Greenlanders tried to raise them in Greenland itself. So instead, the local cuisine is based on game like marine mammals, reindeer, seabirds and fish. Now I have made reindeer before, but it's cost prohibitive for me to do it again, at least not right away. And I'm pretty sure I'm not legally allowed to go shoot a whale or a seabird, nor would I want to. So that leaves fish.


Fortunately I did find plenty of Greenlandic fish recipes, though all of them were in Danish. Also fortunate was that they all called for cod, which is easy to obtain out here in California. And I found a pretty good side as well as a bread and cake recipe too, so I was happy. Here's the menu:

Boiled Cod with Mustard Sauce (This recipe comes from The All Times Cookbook)
  • 1 lb cod filets
  • cold water
  • 1 tsp of salt*
For the sauce:
  • 1/3 cup fish stock
  • 1/3 cup potato water
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp mustard (I used dijon)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2-3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 tbsp grated horseradish
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
*The original recipe called for a "handful" of salt. I interpreted this to mean a very small handful. Also, like so many of these translated recipes, there were no measurements included so most of the measurements you see above are my guesses.

The rest of these recipes came from The Greenland Surveyor:

Kartoffelsalet Varm (Hot Potato Salad)
  • 2 3/4 lb potatoes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper
Chef's Bread
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1 egg, beaten (for brushing)
  • Poppy seeds to taste
Chef's Dream Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 2 cups milk
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/8 cup coconut
  • 1 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
First the bread:

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add about a third of the flour, then the rest of the ingredients. Gradually add the remainder of the flour and knead until you get a smooth dough.

Place in a warm area and let rise for 30 minutes. Punch down and transfer to two loaf pans.

 Let rise for another 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 395 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden.

 
Now for the cake:

Cream the eggs and sugar. When ready, the eggs should make ribbons and be a pale yellow color.

 
Now sift together the flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar and gradually add to the eggs and sugar. Warm the milk and butter and add to the rest of the batter.

 
Line a baking pan with waxed paper and bake at 395 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

 
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the filling in a small pan and heat on your stovetop. Spread over the top of the cake and return to the oven for five minutes at 430 degrees.

Just a note about this cake: 2 cups of milk seemed like way too much. I double checked the ingredients and conversions and they matched the original recipe, but I don't know if something got mucked up in translation. I can't promise this recipe is correct, I can only tell you how the translation said to make it.

Also, I wanted my topping to caramelize a little so I left it in the oven longer.

OK now for the fish. Dice up the cod filets and sprinkle with salt. Return to the fridge for 4 or 5 hours, then rinse and transfer to a pot of water. Add 1 tsp of salt and then bring the pot to a boil. By the time the water reaches the boiling point the fish should be done.

Reserve 1/3 cup of the boiling water for the sauce. You can also use the potato water from the potato salad, so don't pour that away either. Mix together the stock, potato water and milk.

 
In a separate pan, make a roux from the butter and flour. Pour in the stock mixture and bring to a simmer. When the sauce has thickened, add the parsley, hardboiled eggs, horseradish and melted butter. Pour over the fish and serve.

 
Finally, the potato salad:

Boil the potatoes in their skins, then peel and cut into cubes. Sauté the onions in the oil, then add the vinegar, stock and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.

Reheat the potatoes and add to the onion mixture. Serve hot.

 
I liked this meal. I would have liked it better if it had been cold outside, but there you go. The fish was really good—I liked the sauce a lot and might actually make it again the next time I want to liven up a boring piece of fish. The potato salad was a nice side that went well with the fish. The bread was OK, but I feel that way about any whole wheat bread (as you already know if you read this blog). Martin thought it needed more salt, which was annoying because this time I really didn't forget the salt.

The cake was very strange. It had an odd sort of spongy texture only with less air in it. I attribute that to the amount of milk called for in the recipe. I keep thinking I made a mistake somewhere, maybe in the conversion of the ingredients, because I'd be surprised if that was the right texture. But I swear, I did double check so I guess I'll just have to shrug my shoulders. The flavor was fine and I really, really liked the topping, especially after it caramelized in the oven and developed a nice crunch to it. Although I did wonder about the whole coconut thing—I really can't picture palm trees in Greenland.

Next week: Grenada

For printable versions of this week's recipes:



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