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Food & Drink

Make your own delicious plokkfiskur: Tradition Icelandic fish stew

By Staff

  • Plokkfiskur Literally „pulled fish“, plokkfiskur is both healthy and super easy to make. All you need is fish, potatoes, onion, flour, milk, salt and pepper.

Traditional Icelandic fish stew, plokkfiskur is one of foods Icelanders grow up with. Kids love it. It‘s served in preschools and for lunch at schools, and foreign visitors can order fancy versions at most better Reykjavík fish restaurants.

It‘s popularity lies in the fact that it‘s a very simple dish: The core ingredients are fish, potatoes and onion. Every family has its own recipe for plokkfiskur, and there is no one correct way to prepare this dish: Icelandic mothers and grandmothers have thrown these ingredients together to feed their families without precisely measuring the different ingredients, adjusting the recipe based on how much fish or potatoes there are in the fridge that day.

To find the perfect plokkfiskur recipe for your family you simply have to experiment to find your favorite combination and the perfect balance between creaminess and consistency, fish and potatoes, and pepper and onion.

But you always begin with a simple recipe. To help you along the way we have two different versions of plokkfiskur handed down from your editor‘s mother and grandmother.


Mother‘s „fancy“ plokkfiskur for a family of 4

560 grams (1 ¼ lbs.) cod (or haddock or any other codfish), cooked
450 grams (1 lbs.) potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 large white onion, finely chopped
300 milliliters (11 oz.) milk
55 grams (2 oz.) butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon mild yellow curry powder
Grated cheese to taste (ca 1 cup)
Salt, white pepper and course black pepper to taste
Icelandic herbs (or wild arctic thyme) for garnish
Rye Bread

Bring plenty of water to a boil in pot: Put the fish in, put the lid on and leave the fish in the water for ca 10 minutes.

Skin, bone and break up the fish into flakes.
Slowly heat milk in a saucepan almost to a boiling point.
Meanwhile melt the butter and sauté onion over medium heat until soft. Do not allow it to brown.
Sprinkle flour over the butter and onion, stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add warmed milk, stir and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Add fish and stir to break up the flakes. Season with salt, pepper and curry powder.
Cut boiled potatoes to small bite sizes and fold into the stew.

Stir in the cheese and let the stew stand in the pot at low heat for 3-5 min before serving.


Put the stew in an glass or ceramic baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 200°C (390°F) for 3-5 min, or until cheese is golden.

Served with dark sweet Icelandic rye bread and butter.


Grandmother‘s everyday plokkfiskur for a family of 4

1-2 onions, depending on how much onion you want. Don't overdo it!
Equal amount of potatoes and fish, cod or haddock (for example 1 pound each).
Basic white sauce:
  50 g/ 1.8 oz butter for every 0.5 kg of fish
  ca 0.5 l / 17 oz milk
  1/2-1 dl (0.2-0.4 cups) flour
Grated cheese (optional)
Salt, white and/or regular black pepper for seasoning.
Rye bread and butter


Boil the fish and potatoes. Set some of the water the fish was boiled in for later use. Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces. Remove the skin and any bones from the fish. Break the fish up into small pieces. Set aside a small piece for the cat.

Make traditional white sauce (mix butter, milk and flour over medium heat).
Chop up the onion sauté onion slightly in butter.
Mix the fish and potatoes in the white sauce at low heat. Add water if the sauce is too thick.
Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Mix in grated cheese.
Let the stew stand for 10-15 minutes. 

Add black pepper to taste. Serve with dark sweet Icelandic rye bread (or any thick rye bread you have handy).

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