Head to Tail

A feast of fish and cabbage heads provides a sumptuous mid-winter celebration. When photographer Áslaug Snorradóttir suggested a feast of fish heads be the theme of this issue’s food article, we were curious. Fish heads are something usually renegaded to the stockpot and more often to the rubbish bin. After a visit to the local fish market—fish heads aren’t usually available in fish stores - Áslaug managed to get some cod heads, salmon and ling heads as well as the skeletal remains of some sole.

In preparing the feast, the salmon was bathed in white wine, tomato, red onion, bell peppers and coriander seeds for a Mediterranean flair; the cod was treated in a classic way and drenched in white wine, lots of garlic and lemon and then finished off with a dash of truffle seaweed. Finally,

the ling was cooked with a local Nordic Saison beer called Leifur, orange juice, rosemary and edible flowers. What it lacked in flesh on the bones it made up for in flavor.

But this feast wasn’t just about fish heads. Served alongside this cornucopia of fish heads there were vegetables. Whole heads of white and red cabbages were boiled and then finished off in the

oven. A simple fresh tomato and parsley salsa was drizzled over the heads. Whole onions and swedes (rutabaga) were then poached in pure butter. All the preparations involved copious amounts of butter.

Once the heads were cooked, the juices were separated to drink alongside the meal or as a bread dunking medium. The slightly salted sole remains were baked simply until crispy and made a crunchy snack.

The location was a top-floor apartment overlooking downtown Reykjavík, chosen in part for its large windows, allowing in plenty of light for shooting the images. Finally, the meal was ready, the table set and the guests seated.

By Eirný Sigurðardóttir and Zoë Robert.
Photos and styling by Áslaug Snorradóttir.

This article was originally published in Iceland Review magazine.

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