Book Review/Recipe Pairing: Angels of the Universe

Angels of the Universe by Einar Mar Gudmundson and Plokkfiskur

I am so excited for this book review/recipe pairing!  Angels of the Universe, by the Icelandic author Einar Mar Gudmundsson, definitely needs to be paired with one of the traditional dishes of Iceland, Plokkfiskur (Fish Stew).  We discovered it on our first night in Reykjavik at a fabulous restaurant, Fish & More (Salka Valka) on Skólavörðustígur.  It is a savory dish, basically a mash of fish and potatoes, typically served with rye bread.  I can’t explain what makes it so special, but it is definitely one of my comfort foods.  Its creamy texture is perfect for a winter night, particularly when paired with one of Iceland’s local beers.  I have tried to recreate it at home, with some success.  I can get the texture, but not quite the unique curry-like flavor.  You’ll have to go to Iceland for that.  But regardless, it immediately takes me back to our amazing trip, filled with long nights, Northern Lights and good music.  For the full experience, I recommend downloading some tracks from another Icelandic gem, the amazing musician, Mugison.

Experiment with your own spices and enjoy.  Takk!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb cod or halibut
  • 1 lb waxy potatoes, roughly chopped and boiled
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 12 oz milk
  • 3 Tb butter
  • 4 Tb flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • spices per taste (curry, mustard, dill)
  • 2 TB chives
  • White wine per taste
  • Rye bread with butter

Directions:

  • Turn oven to 425 degrees.
  • Add potatoes to dutch oven and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook until tender, approximately 12-15 minutes.  Drain, reserving liquids, and set aside.
  • Line a baking dish with foil.  Salt and pepper fish and lay down in baking dish.  Dab with half the butter and drizzle with dry white wine.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until it is cooked through and flaking.  Remove and set aside, reserving liquids.  (Note: Some recipes call for poaching the fish, rather than baking.  Your choice.)
  • Add the remaining butter to saute pan and add onions.  Cook over medium heat until translucent.  Add salt, pepper and any additional spices such as curry. Sprinkle flour on and stir to coat.  Add the reserved liquids and deglaze pan (option: add more wine to deglaze).
  • Add milk to pan that you previously cooked the potatoes in and simmer on low for 3-4 minutes, adding more spices to infuse the milk.  Stir often, until the mixture becomes creamy.
  • Add the potatoes, breaking up a bit.  Add fish and stir gently.  Add salt and pepper as necessary.
  • Ladle on plate, top with chives and serve with rye bread and butter.  Roasted vegetables such as broccoli, pair nicely with the dish.

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