Cod tongues – soðnar gellur

The humble cod has been the dominant fish in Icelandic cuisine for centuries. An example of its importance is that there is an Icelandic name for every bone and muscle in the cod's head, more than forty terms in all, and every one of those muscles has been eaten.

Cod tongues aren't really tongues, but rather the fleshy, triangular muscle behind and under the tongue. They are available from all good fishmongers's shops in Iceland, both salted and fresh. When I was working in a salt fish factory in my teens, we could take home all the gellur we wanted for free. Salted gellur need to be soaked in cold water over night.

Take the gellur and scrape off the slime. Drop into boiling water (salted if they're fresh) for 10-15 minutes. Serve with plain boiled potatoes, rye bread and butter.

If there is anything left over at the end of the meal, you can try this recipe with the leftovers:

Fried gellur:

1/2 kg cooked gellur
2 tbs flour
Salt and fish spice mix
75-100 g butter

If you want sauce (I don't)
1/4 litre water
Sauce colouring
Salt and pepper

Roll the gellur in flour into which salt and spice has been mixed and brown in butter in a frying pan. Remove from the pan. Deglaze the pan and add sauce colouring. Cook until it is sufficiently thickened. Pour over the gellur. Serve on toast with fresh salad on the side.

Sometimes I make British fish batter (of fish-and-chips fame), dip gellur in it and deep-fry. Yummm!

The first recipe is traditional, the second is not.


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