Every country has a signature dish. In Iceland Plokkfiskur (fish stew) is a signature dish. Translated, it means "mashed fish". As it was explained to me by our Icelandic guide, every family makes their fish stew differently. Basically they use their leftover fish, usually cod or haddock (Iceland has a major cod fishery) to make the stew for the next day's meal. The flavor is better if the stew sits overnight in the refrigerator. Some top it off with grated cheese and then put it under the broiler to melt. Others add spices such as curry or top it off with chives or brown bread croutons. It's not a particularly pretty dish but what makes it distinctive is that it is so thick, you can eat it with a fork. It's sort of like New England fish chowder eaten with a fork! If I were in Maine, I would make this often with the fresh haddock I could buy in the supermarkets. I had a hearty, delicious fish stew in one of the fabulous Reykjavic waterfront restaurants we ate at while visiting Iceland (see photo from menu). My recipe is an attempt at duplicating the dish that was served to me (and it had curry in it and was topped with chives, cheese, and rye croutons). The major difference is, I added some carrot. I can't get fresh cod or haddock in Florida so I used frozen cod from Trader Joe's. I think you might be able to make this with tilapia and grouper would certainly work. I might try it next time with a Florida fresh fish.
Icelandic Fish Stew
1 lb of cod, haddock, or other white flaky fish
1 large onion, chopped
3 T butter
5-6 large red or white skinned potatoes
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup half and half, light cream, or evaporated milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tsp curry powder, chives, grated cheese, lemon
1. Cook the fish (poach, steam, or bake) until it easily flakes. Flake or mash the fish and set aside.
2. Chop potatoes and boil until soft. Drain and mash.
3. Saute onion and carrot in butter.
4. Add mashed potatoes, flaked fish, and half and half. Stir together.
5. Slowly add milk until you get the consistency you want. It should be thick and easily eaten with a fork.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste. For best flavor, let it sit in fridge overnight and heat up the next day.
7. Optional: Serve with slice of lemon. Top with snipped chives, or brown bread/rye croutons. Add about 1/2 cup of grated cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese to step #4 or put stew in ovenproof dish with cheese on top and melt and brown under broiler.
Makes 4-5 servings