Reykjavik Salmon Salad Inspired by 'The Tricking of Freya'

Reykjavik Salmon Salad Inspired by 'The Tricking of Freya'

Wednesday, 4 May, 2022

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.

rule

Iceland’s bracing wind, salty sea, and volcanic soil make for breathtaking, otherwordly scenery. It’s drama for the eyes, and it’s been a catalyst for action in stories since the Vikings were the baddest baddies around.

The Tricking of Freya is a big adventure story tucked into the frame of bildungsroman. Our heroine Freya is named for the Norse goddess of love and battle. As we get to know and grow to love her, we’re immersed in a world of Icelandic sagas, delightful wordplay, traditional food, and the strong bonds (for better and for worse) of family.

Food in Iceland takes advantage of the nourishing, flavorful ingredients that grow on, in, under, and around its remarkable landscape — Seafood, lamb, salmon and trout, seabirds and waterfowl (and their eggs), Iceland moss, rhubarb, wild mushrooms, dried seaweed, blueberries, tangy skyr, and vibrant herbs like thyme and lovage and dill.

When we visited Iceland a few years ago, our hotel served up an epic buffet every morning in the breakfast room. I was so happy with it, I documented every detail in my journal. (The foods that are underlined? Those are the ones I ate. My travel journals are a treasure trove of extreme nerdiness).

handwritten page from a journal

It was my first time trying the Icelandic yogurt called skyr. What a revelation! It’s a delicious, creamy cloud — stand-a-spoon-in-it thick, but so satiny, rich with a mild tang. It’s documented in my journal like this:

It was also my first time tasting pickled herring; I didn’t expect it to be sweet. But once I got over the shock, it was, admittedly, still a bit weird but compelling. The big winner in the fish department was the smoked salmon. Smoked salmon in Reykjavik was unlike any I’ve eaten anywhere else. It was beyond tender; the word ‘silky’ comes to mind.

If you could eat the scenery in Iceland, it would taste like the smoked salmon, herbs, and pickles that were on our hotel breakfast buffet. I stacked these fresh ingredients on my plate every morning to make breakfast canapés. When I got home, I recreated it the fancy way and, when I was feeling lazy and very hungry, I threw all the ingredients in a bowl and called it a salad. Either way, it’s salty, crispy, creamy, and cool. Whenever I eat it, it reminds me of our Icelandic adventures.

There are two serving options, depending on your mood.

You can make it fancy…

smoked salmon appetizers on a black background

… or keep it casual.

 salad with hard-boiled eggs and smoked salmon in a black bowl

Reykjavik Salmon Salad

Serves 1. Total time 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

Per Person:

  • 4-5 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1-2 boiled eggs (see below)
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • dill pickles
  • mayo (preferably homemade)
  • fresh dill
  • a wedge or two of fresh lemon

Directions:

Choose. Decide if you’re going to be fancy or casual.

To be fancy. Cut the cucumber, pickle, and boiled eggs into even slices, then stack the ingredients: cucumber, egg, pickle, salmon, a dollop of mayo, fresh dill, ground black pepper, fresh lemon juice.

To be casual. Cut the cucumber and pickles into thin half-moons. Slice the boiled eggs into quarters. Place salmon, cucumber, and pickles in a bowl and arrange the eggs on top. Add a dollop of mayo, plenty of dill, and a sprinkling of ground black pepper, then squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the whole shebang.

rule

eggs in a carton on a black background
Photo courtesy of Debby Hudson/Unsplash.

Perfectly Peelable Hard-Boiled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • large eggs
  • water

Directions:

Boil the water. Place a pot of water on high and bring to a rolling boil. The pot should be big enough to comfortably hold the eggs and enough water to cover them by about an inch or two.

Add the eggs. Use a large ladle or spoon to lower the eggs into the boiling water, one at a time. Place them gently in the pot, so they don’t crack. (If they do crack, no biggie. But let’s not crack our eggs too soon.)

Reduce the heat. Lower the heat on the pan to simmer and cook for 9-11 minutes, depending on how firm you like the yolks. Set a timer.

Make an ice bath. You need to shock the eggs when they’re finished boiling. Fill a large bowl with plenty of ice and cold water.

Shock ‘em! When the eggs are finished, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and lower them into the ice bath. Let them chill out for at least 15 minutes. When you’re ready to eat them, crack the shell all over and peel.

 

I remember cream of lobster soup served in large white tureens, a platter with the largest whole salmon I’d ever seen, lamb that tasted like an entirely different bree of meat. Toasts were made, to me and Birdie, to Olafur, to Iceland, to Canada. Steal! the guests would cry, then lock eyes before drinking. — Christina Sunley

The Tricking of Freya

by Christina Sunley

Our heroine and narrator is Freya Morris. For most of the year, she lives in Connecticut with her mother (her words: ‘a limbo to be endured’), but every summer, they make a pilgrimage to see their relatives in Gimli, a village in Canada that was settled by Icelandic immigrants. The highlights of the trip are her grandmother’s cooking, the Icelandic Festival, and time spent with her Aunt Birdie. One summer, during the Festival, a very Serious Dramatic Thing happens that changes all of their lives.{more}

This coming-of-age story (352 pages) was published in March of 2009 by St. Martin's Press. The book takes you to 1970s Iceland and Canada. Melissa read The Tricking of Freya and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

The Tricking of Freya: A Novel

 

Top image courtesy of Joaquin Corbalan P/Shutterstock.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

The sales pitch for Iceland could just be a list of awesome words: Emo Horses, Elf Houses, Warrior Poets, Northern Lights, Torquoise Hot Springs. It's the Land of Fire and Ice — and friendly people and great books.
What makes an already fantastic place even better? A bookshop, of course. And when it's a lovingly preserved historic shop with a friendly bookseller (in tweed) with stunning views out the windows, we're all in.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.