“It’s not just this interest in the warfare, or the raiding part. People are trying to see the more complex, full picture,” he said. “Food means a lot in our connections with people. What the [Viking-age] food tells us is that they are people, just like us – they strive for something that tastes good, they eat together and share food and invite people to eat.”
And while Serra remains a huge fan of immersing himself in Viking traditions, he hopes that more people will try cooking dishes from the era, even if that takes place in the comfort of their own homes.
“Viking food is not difficult to make,” he said. “You don’t have to wear wool and stand by an open fire. You can cook Viking-age food in a modern kitchen. People are often a bit sceptical, but it’s tastier than you think!”
Traveller’s Fish Porridge recipe
By Daniel Serra
Dried cod was a major export during the Viking era, and the bones of dried cod have been found across Scandinavia. Dried fish heads are an excellent base for making stock. Today they can be sourced from West African food shops in Scandinavia, which import them, or at markets in Iceland and northern Norway, where local cod is still caught and dried. (You can also use supermarket fish stock cubes as a substitute, although the taste will be less powerful.)
Shallots are a close relative to a type of onion found at an excavation of a pre-Viking age settlement on the Swedish island of Öland. In springtime they can be substituted for ramson plants, which have been described in various Viking sagas.
For the stock:
1 dried cod head (not salt cod or saltfish)
2-3 litres of water
For the porridge:
400g (14oz) barley (or pre-prepared steel-cut oats, not rolled oats)
75g (about 5 tbsp) salted butter
4-5 shallots, finely chopped
½-1 tsp dill seeds
1 tbsp malt vinegar
To make the stock, crush the cod head on a hard surface. Breaking it into pieces ensures you will maximise the flavour it gives the stock. To make the stock, put the crushed cod head into a pot with the water and bring it to the boil. Let it simmer at a low temperature for 90 minutes, or until it is reduced to about half the amount of liquid. Drain and discard the solids, then keep the stock warm.
In the meantime, crush or grind the barley (or use ready-made steel-cut oats). This be done in a food processor or blender, but don’t grind them too finely.
Melt the butter in a medium or large pot, then add the shallots and sweat them over medium heat until they become translucent (not browned). Add the dill seeds to the butter and shallot mixture, stirring once or twice and reduce to low to medium heat. Add the barley and mix thoroughly. Pour in the malt vinegar and stir. The grains should absorb the vinegar. Add more if you prefer your dish on the more acidic side.
Once the stock is ready, pour in enough to cover the grains. Stir and add more, little by little. Let the pot simmer on low to medium heat until the grains look soft and creamy.
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Read More: What did the Vikings eat?