No-one knows how to whip up warming food better than an Icelander which is why, this month, we’re looking to Forréttabarinn, one of Reykjavik’s top restaurants, for culinary inspiration.
It was an app showing the best time and place to spot the northern lights that brought chef Olivier Gruau to Iceland, six years ago. Following a cheffing career in French and Danish restaurants, as well as at a Private Member’s Club in London, Gruau was working in Norway when he first saw the sky aglow. The app he downloaded to find out more seemed to consistently advertise Iceland to him, until he eventually gave in and moved to the Nordic island, telling us he couldn’t live anywhere without them in the night sky.
Here, as head chef at Reykjavik’s Forréttabarinn, Gruau serves up clean, honest, home-cooked food in an industrial-feel building at the city’s trendy harbour (the building was a former factory, making fishing nets).
Forréttabarinn is the kind of restaurant where anything goes; you can drop in after work for a casual dinner, dress up and visit for date night, or anything in between. Whatever the occasion, you’re guaranteed Icelandic fare, with a modern twist. It’s the hot smoke salmon cooked on a barbecue that caught our eye and, below, chef Olivier Gruau lets us in on the recipe…
HOT SMOKE SALMON AT FORRÉTTABARINN
For the Salmon:
1 Fresh Salmon Fillet
300 gr Salt
180 gr Sugar
50 gr Fresh Dill
For the Sauce:
300 gr Greek Yoghurt
6 Mint Leaves
20 gr Fresh Dill
Start the night before: Trim and remove the bones of the salmon, mix the salt sugar and freshly chopped dill, rub into the salmon and let it marinate overnight.
The next day:
Make the potato röstis: Peel and grate the potatoes then squeeze them to remove excess water. Mix them with the butter and the chopped onion. Heat oil in a frying pan. While the oil is warming, shape the röstis in the palm of your hand, then fry in the pan until they become golden brown and crispy.
Make the sauce: Blend half of the greek yogurt with the juice and zest of the limes plus the herbs. Transfer the contents to a bowl and mix with the remaining yogurt. Adjust the seasoning and keep the sauce in the fridge for later.
For the salmon: Wash the salt and sugar from the filet and dry it in a towel. Heat a barbecue with a small amount of coal until it is glowing red, add the salmon to the cooking rack and close the lid. In 6 – 7 minutes the salmon will be ready.
Assemble: Place the rösti on a dish and top with a few fresh lettuce leaves, add the salmon, and drizzle a generous amount of the sauce on top. Decorate with fresh herbs such as dill.
CHEF’S TIP FOR MAKING IT PERFECT:
Sprinkle some cherry wood sawdust to the hot barbecue coals for the best smoked taste.