Don't try this at home unless you
know what the end product is supposed to taste like. Putrefied shark
can become spoiled.
I read in a book that fresh shark is unsuitable for eating because there is
uremic acid in the flesh. This I am inclined to believe,
considering that cured shark smells like stagnant urine or ammonia. It has
also been claimed that that there is cyanic acid in shark meat. Fresh
shark meat is said to have caused people to vomit blood. The curing process removes
the acid from
the flesh and makes it easier to digest. Connoisseurs of strong cheese
generally like cured shark on the first bite. Others find it to be an
Cured shark for sale at an outdoor market.
Looks a bit like jerked meat, doesn't it?
Cured shark being served and sampled.
Take one large shark, gut and discard the innards, the cartilage and the head. Cut
flesh into large pieces.Wash in running water to get all slime and blood
off. Dig a large hole in coarse gravel, preferably down by the
sea and far from the nearest inhabited house - this is to make sure the
smell doesn't bother anybody. Put in the shark pieces, and press them well
together. It's best to do this when the weather is fairly
warm (but not hot), as it hastens
the curing process. Cover with more gravel and put heavy rocks on
top to press down. Leave for 6-7 weeks (in summer) to 2-3 months (in
During this time, fluid will drain from the shark flesh, and putrefication
will set in.
When the shark is soft and smells like
ammonia, remove from the gravel,
and hang in a drying shack. This is a shack or shed with plenty of
holes to let the wind in, but enough shade to prevent the sun from shining
directly on the shark. Let it hang until it is firm and fairly dry: 2-4
months. Warm, windy and dry weather will hasten the process, while cold, damp
and still weather will delay it.
Slice off the brown crust, cut the whitish flesh into small pieces and serve, preferably with a shot of ice-cold brennivín.
The modern method for
curing shark relies on putting it into a large container with a drainage
hole, and letting it cure as it does when buried in gravel.