July 5, 2017 | Short Order

Is It Healthier? Icelandic Fish & Chips in the West Village Says Yes.

 

by Diana Pérez

Your health can af-fjörd this: Icelandic Fish & Chips’ healthier take on the iconic dish.  

          If the three Cod Wars (not to be confused with any Cold War) between Great Britain and Iceland (1958-1976) taught us anything, it’s never to underestimate the fierce love and pride both island nations have for their surrounding waters and their abundant seafood culture.

          Icelandic Fish & Chips is the first New York outpost of an Icelandic chain promoting a healthier take on the iconic dish. The restaurant first opened in Reykjavík over 10 years ago with a location in the heart of the capital’s pristine harbor. I was excited to learn about the opening here personally due to my own Iceland history. During my senior year of high school, I lived in Reykjavik as a foreign exchange student, living as much like an Icelander as a Latina New Yorker could.

          In fact, I was a fish out of its own water. Back then Iceland wasn’t as hot a destination as it is today. The country’s most famous export was—and remains—Björk. Then as now, if you spend enough time with Icelanders, you'll discover that like their Viking forebears, they are also unafraid to set sail for new horizons. Or to challenge the Brits at their own signature dish. 

 

Ling fish, like cod, can be served fried or salted and dried.

          “Fish and chips” brings to mind the deep-fried crispy hunks of flaky cod or haddock served alongside French fries and malt vinegar available in any pub across the United Kingdom. Is it possible to make this into a healthy meal?

          Icelandic Fish & Chips owners Erna Kaaber and Helen Ólafsdóttir think there is. First, of course, they source only sustainable fish and seafood, stocking the menu with up to 9 types of fish flown in from Iceland several times a week, including ling, Atlantic wolffish, haddock and, of course, cod. Since Iceland is only a 5-hour flight from New York, they like to suggest the carbon footprint remains small.

          Second, the batter matters: instead of working with a traditional mixture of refined wheat flour and eggs, Icelandic’s fish is coated in a batter of organic spelt and other "secret ingredients" that supposedly absorbs less oil during cooking. The result, they point out, is a crispier, lighter, almost airy texture.

          Finally, the restaurant bases all their sauces on Skyr, an Icelandic dairy product that’s technically a cheese although its texture is similar to thick yogurt.  Look for chili, tarragon, truffle and even tzatziki touched dressings, rather than the single traditional mayo-based tartar sauce.

 

For dessert, Skyr with cream and fresh blueberries, served with Angelica biscotti.

          As for the “chips,” Icelandic Fish & Chips roasts and seasons organic potatoes with fresh parsley and artisanal salt from Saltverk, a refinery located in the far Western Fjords of Iceland. On the menu, you'll also find onion rings, dipped and fried in the same spelt batter as the the fish, and a number of salads and desserts, also featuring Skyr.

28 7th Avenue, between St. Luke’s Place and Bedford Street. Telephone 646 922 8473  Open for lunch Monday-Sunday 12pm-3pm, Dinner Sunday-Wednesday 5pm-12am, Thursday-Saturday 5pm-1am.

 

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