Colostrum pudding (broddur) – Ábrystir

This is a lovely pudding, rich and thick with the texture similar to crème caramel. It makes me think of spring, as it’s the time when the cows calve and colostrum is readily available if one knows an obliging farmer. Colostrum is not sold in supermarkets, but you can sometimes find it at the Reykjavík flea market’s food section.

Raw colostrum

1 litre cow’s colostrum (milk from the first or second milking after calving)
Whole milk, as needed
1-2 tsp salt

Mixing the colostrum with milk is an art one has to learn, but the rule of thumb is that if it’s from the first milking, then it should be thinned 1:1, but if it’s from the second milking, then it should be thinned with two parts colostrum to one part milk. To make sure you’re getting the mix right, do a test batch and cook it to see how it comes out.

Cooked colostrum

When you’re sure of the mix, stir together the milk and colostrum, dissolve the salt in a little warm water and add to the mix. Pour into a saucepan or bowl, put a lid on it and cook gently in a water bath on the stovetop, or bake in an oven until the mixture is set. The pudding should be solid, soft and smooth – the texture is similar to crème caramel.

(As a matter of fact, in one recipe I have seen Ábrystir is served much like crème caramel: ramekins are coated with burnt sugar syrup, the colostrum and milk are mixed with sugar and a vanilla bean, poured into the ramekins and cooked in a water bath.)

With cinnamon sugar

Serve hot or cold with cinnamon sugar (mix cinnamon into white sugar) and milk or half-and-half. Cold Ábrystir is also good with caramel sauce:

250 g sugar
1/4 litre hot milk

Put the sugar in a saucepan and heat until a white froth starts to form. Add the milk and stir to make a smooth sauce. Serve with Ábrystir, rice pudding, ris a la mande or other white milk-based puddings.

How to cook a whale

I have received a request from someone who wants to know how to cook whale. The recipes are presented here for the curiosity value, as whale is only available in a few countries. I haven’t tasted whale since I was in my teens, and I don’t expect many of my readers will ever get the chance to try it. The recipes are therefore untested by me. Beef or a good, tender piece of horse-steak can be substituted for whale, in which case you can leave out the beating.

Recipe nr 1:
3/4 to 1 kilo whale meat (or beef/horse)
50 g butter, tallow or lard
2-3 onions
Salt and pepper
Laurel leaf (optional)
600-700 ml water
Sauce colouring (caramel)
50 g flour
200 ml milk

Clean the meat: some say it’s enough to slice off about a centimetre off each side of the piece, others recommend soaking in milk overnight. This is only to ensure there will be no oily taste to the meat, but if it has been properly handled in the first place, it will not taste oily. Cut into steaks and beat with a meat mallet.
Slice the onions. Heat the cooking fat in a frying pan, brown the meat on all sides and put in a cooking pot, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the onions in a frying pan and add half to the pot with the meat, along with the laurel leaf, if using. Set half the onions aside. Pour water into the frying pan and deglaze. Pour over the meat and cook for 15 to 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Arrange the steaks on a serving dish and arrange the browned onions that were set aside on top.
Make a paste with the milk and flour and use it to thicken the cooking liquid left in the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with cooked potatoes and vegetables arranged around the meat and sprinkle parsley or cress over the dish. Serve gravy on the side.

Recipe no 2:
3/4 kg whale meat, beef or horse
250 g onions
75 g margarine or butter
2 tbs tomato purée
200 ml water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika

Melt the margarine in a frying pan, slice the onion and brown it. Remove from pan and set aside. Cut the meat into slices, brown in the pan and put in a cooking pot or stew pan with the onions. Boil the water, stir in the tomato purée, salt and paprika and pour over the meat. Cook slowly for 14 to 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Serve with potatoes.

Recipe no 3:
3/4 kilo whale, beef or horse
50 g margarine
3-4 onions
2-3 tbs water
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Cut the meat into very thin slices (1/2 cm thick or so). Brown quickly in a dry pan (no oil). Remove meat and melt the margarine and brown the sliced onions in it. Remove from the pan, add the water and cook the meat slices in the water for 2-3 minutes. Flavour with salt and spices. Serve with potatoes and a salad.

Sour pickled whale blubber – súr hvalrengi
Chunks of whale blubber are washed under cold running water and cooked until firm, then removed from the cooking liquid, cooled and kept in cold water for 1-2 days, cut into smaller pieces and dropped into strong whey. Ready for eating in 4-6 weeks.


When I went to sixth-form college (the school stage between elementary school and university) I lived in a dormitory and ate all my meals in the school cafeteria. Whenever the cook had amassed enough leftover meat, we would be served “biximatur”, a medley of fried meat leftovers with potatoes and onions. This can be quite good, or it can be a disaster. Serves 5.

250 g cooked meat, mixed or not. Can be anything: beef, mutton, pork, horse, sausage, turkey, chicken or game.
500 gr. cooked potatoes
1 large onion
100 gr. margarine or butter, or substitute with cooking oil
1 tsp salt dash pepper

Cut the meat and potatoes into small cubes. Peel and slice the onions. Fry the onion slices in the margarine on a frying pan until they take on a golden colour. Add the meat and potatoes and fry until heated through and starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with fried egg and ketchup (optional), and a fresh salad.

Recipe taken from Helga Sigurðardóttir’s “Matur & Drykkur”, Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1986 (1947).

Baked fish loaf – Fiskrönd

This recipe uses the same basic fish dough that is given in the recipe for fish balls.

Press 400 gr. fish dough into a loaf pan (fill the pan no more that 3/4). Cover with aluminium foil to avoid burning. Pour boiling water into a roasting pan (or use a Bain Marie) and add the loaf pan with the fish dough. Cook in this waterbath in a 180°C oven for 40-50 minutes, making sure that the roasting pan is always at least half full. When ready, remove from the loaf pan. Serve upside down, decorated with sliced lemon, cooked shrimp, tomatoes and salad leaves.

Serve with white sauce, melted butter, caper sauce, shrimp sauce, asparagus sauce, or sauce Hollandaise.