It may seem strange that an entire blog post would be devoted to a hot dog, but if you have ever tried one, you understand. Forget traditional Icelandic foods like rotten shark (hákarl) or Svið (roasted sheep skull), Iceland’s de facto national fast food - dare we say soul food - is the hot dog. All this fame and love is well deserved. Simply put, they are delicious - addictively delicious. This post is a love letter (of sorts) to the Icelandic hot dog, and hopefully everything you ever wanted to know about this savory snack - which is quite possibly the best hot dog in the world.
What’s in them?
What sets Icelandic hot dogs apart is that they are made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with pork and beef. And, this isn’t just any lamb, pork or beef. This is organic, free range, grass fed, hormone free - pick your positive metaphor - Icelandic lamb, pork and beef. The sheep in Iceland literally roam the countryside until the fall eating berries and leaves. Pigs and cows in Iceland live on small loving farms in one of the cleanest, most pristine environments on Earth. And, the hot dogs are made with natural casings so they have the ‘pop’ when you bit into them!
What are the condiments?
Order an Icelandic hot dog as most Icelanders do and yours will be served on a warm, steamed bun topped with raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsu sinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. Maybe you are saying to yourself, “Ew, raw onions. I don’t like raw onions!” Like sushi, or other famous dishes that are literally the sum of their parts, you owe it to yourself to try an Icelandic hot dog with everything first, you will most likely change your tune - we have seen it many times!
How to Order
Assuming we have you convinced you to try one with everything, all you need say when you make it to the counter is “ein með öllu” (roughly pronounced: ane meth alt) will indeed get you one with everything, and may even a wry smile for attempting to speak Icelandic. Not ready to do that? No matter, Icelanders all speak English.
The most famous hot dog stand in Iceland
In downtown Reykjavik, not far from the newly built Harpa Concert and Conference Center is the unassuming Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand (which translates to “best hot dogs in town”). It has been open since 1937 and it’s likely that the vast majority of Iceland’s population has eaten a hot dog from here. It’s even had its fair share of famous visitors including Bill Clinton and Metallica - probably many, many other famous people in secret!
What are they called in Iceland?
In Icelandic a hot dog is called Pylsa or Pulsa (with conjugations). There is actually (not joking) an active controversy amongst Icelanders whether Icelandic hot dogs should be called Pylsa or Pulsa. It is a bit of a silly argument, and both sides think that the other is saying it wrong. It is likely that Pulsa is influenced by the Danish language. The word for sausage in Danish is Polser. The Norse influence (Swedish, Faroese, Norwegian) changes the O in Polser to a Y - Pylsa.
Where to buy them?
The short answer is, everywhere! There are hot dog stands in almost every city, town or village, If there’s no village, you can buy them at every gas station or convenience store. You can even buy them at the airport. All of which is further proof that the Icelandic hot dog may be Iceland’s national dish.
Bring some home and how to cook them
If you develop a Pylsa addiction, like many, you can buy them in the duty free shop on your way home as well as all the other ingredients. Then all you need to know is how to cook them correctly, here too we've found differing opinions. The main thing you don’t want to do is overcook them - the trick is NOT to boil them. Some say to put a little malt beer in the water - that part we will leave to you. Then heat the buns a little before you put in the toppings (the microwave works well for this, but just don’t leave them in too long!) and you will be able to enjoy them at home...until they are all gone, which won’t take long. Then you’ll have one more reason to return to Iceland.
Article from Magazine by the Icelandair Hotels
Products talked about in this article and is available at nammi.is
Icelandic Hot Dog Remulaði or Relish
Icelandic Putrified Shark Meat