Fish and shellfish

Seafood for Vikings

There's no doubt that fish was on the Vikings' menu. Especially along the coast line, fish and shellfish were an important supplement to the diet and a considerable protein source.

This week, the Vikings in the Longhouse have been smoking, salting and dried fish. They've been cooking shellfish and slurping delicious fish soup. Below are the recipes and they are really quite simple if you would care to cook the dishes yourself.

Dried Jutlanders

Dabs or other flatfish

Cut off the heads, gut and clean the fish thoroughly. Place them in layers in a wooden vessel with so much salt between the fish that they don't touch each other. You must be lavish with the salt.

Leave the fish to salt for a couple of days. Thenbinde dry off the salt and with a knife make a little incision across the tails. Use a flax thread to tie the fish together in pairs - dark side to dark side - by the tails.

Hang up the fish on a stick or a strong string to dry outside. Depending on the weather this will take about a week. The fish are not to get wet, so in case it rains you have to move the stick or the string with the fish inside.

When ready to eat, skin the fish and pick the meat from the bone with a knife. Another way to enjoy the fish is by cutting them into thin strips with scissors and eat the small bones, too.

This 'snack' is very good, but you're likely to become rather thirsty when you've had a few pieces of fish.



Bring the water with a little salt to a boil and add the prawns. Let them cook till they are a reddish colour.

Drain the prawns and let them cool for a bit. Shell the prawns and serve with bread.

Crab claws

Crab claws

Bring the water with a little salt to a boil and add the prawns. Leave to cook for 20 minutes. Remove the cooking pot from the fire and leave the claws to rest in the water for another 20 minutes.

Drain the claws. Break the crab claw at the joint, crack the shell with a wooden spoon to remove the meat with a knife. Serve with bread and thyme butter.


1 kg mussels
1.5 cup water
1 chopped onion
1 chopped garlic clove
A little salt
Chopped spring onion, chervil, goutweed or thyme
A little cream if you like

Make sure that any mussels with open shells are not dead and therefore dangerous to eat: Tap the mussel sharply on a hard surface and if the shell closes, the mussel is OK to eat. Throw away any mussel that does not close tightly and any chipped or cracked mussel.

Put the mussels in a wooden bowl or bucket with water. Clean the shells with a stiff brush and remove the 'beard'. Rinse thoroughly, but don't let the mussels soak.

Put all the ingredients (except the mussels) in a cooking pot and place over the fire. Bring it to a boil, add the mussels and cover the pot with a lid. Stir a few times during cooking, and when all the shells have opened, the mussels are done. Throw any mussel that have not opened during cooking. Serve the mussels in a bowl with some of the soup. Serve with bread.

Fish soup

5 carrots
5 onions
Finely chopped spring onion
1 cup cream
1 kg trouts

Clean and dice the onions and carrots. Melt the butter in a cooking pot. Add the onions and carrots and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Leave to simmer until the vegetables are 'al dente'. It's now time to add the herbs, spring onions and the cream.

Cut the trouts into bite-sized pieces and add them to the soup. Let it simmer over low heat until the fish is tender. Season to taste and serve with bread.

Salted herrings

Herrings - preferably autumn herrings 

Rinse the herrings and place them (with heads, insides and tails) in layers with salt in between in a wooden barrel. 24 hours later, the salt will have drained the water out of the herrings and formed a brine. The brine is to cover the herrings completely. Cover with a wooden lid to press the herrings down into the brine. Leave the herrings in the brine for about a month at 0-9 degrees C.

To eat the herrings remove them from the brine and soak them in fresh water for about 24 hours. Skin the herrings and cut into bite-sized pieces. You bite of the meat from the bones.

Enzymes in the herrings' intestines mature the fish while they are salted.

1 cup = 150 ml approx.

Ribe VikingeCenter's 2012 project 'Nordic food is Viking food' is supported by Region Syddanmark.