Sviðasulta, the traditional Icelandic hangover cure made from sheep’s head

The traditional Icelandic hangover cure sviðasulta, served with Flatbrauð (flat bread) and butter.

The traditional Icelandic hangover cure sviðasulta, served with Flatbrauð (flat bread) and butter.

We already gave you some tips and tricks to get rid of your hangover. But every country has its own traditional dishes to make the process go faster. We like to give you a taste of the international anti-hangover cuisine. This time we set sail for Iceland, a country with a great tradition of interesting drinks and dishes. The traditional hangover cure of this Scandinavian country is a terrine of a sheep’s head called sviðasulta. We’ll tell you  how to make it from scratch.

It’s not that we regret our post Welcome to Hell A.K.A. Scandinavia, but we do stumble upon more and more interesting facts about the drinking cultures in this part of the world. So it seems hardly fair to just talk about the retarded alcohol policies in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland and not mention the good parts too. Our post on Norwegian linie aquavit was a good start to rehabilitate the people  of Northern Europe and now it’s Iceland’s turn.

The national spirit of this island is called brennivin, which is distilled from grain or potatoes. Extra flavour is added with the herb caraway. The alcohol percentage is usually 80, so it’s pretty hardcore. This fact is emphasized by the drink’s nickname ‘The Black Death’. Which is funny since many strong drinks were actually invented in medieval times as a medicine against the plague. To complete the circle: one of those drinks was brandy (after the Dutch word brandewijn), which is brennivin in Icelandic.

Besides brennivin Iceland has a lot more amazing drinks.  Reyka vodka for example, which has a unique taste since it’s made with water from an old lava field. Or what to think of fjallagrasa moss schnapps, a spirit made from ocean moss. Iceland also  has some pretty nice beers,  including a special beer made from whale testicles.

That brings us to the Icelandic cuisine. Some of the traditional dishes might raise some eyebrows here and there. The Icelanders don’t let anything eatable go to waste. Living in a rough environment they developed some very interesting dishes, including the hangover cure sviðasulta. All you need is water, salt and a sheep’s head. However, the preparation still takes some effort. Let’s get started.

Sheep’s head

When we say we start from scratch, we really do mean it. So we’ll take a sheep’s head with everything on it; skin, hair, brains and eyes. First hold the head over a fire and singe all the hair. Then brush it well under cold running water. Pay extra attention to the areas around the eyes and inside the ears.
Now saw the head in half lengthwise and remove the brains. A handy tip here: if you freeze the head first, this job is a lot less messy. Now cook both halfs of the head shortly with the skin on.
Then fill a pot with water and salt to taste and boil the head for around 2 hours. From time to time you can skim off the scum. In some time you’ll see the meat coming off the bone.
Separate all the meat from the sheep’s head and put it in a bowl or a loaf pan. Then pour some broth from the pot over the meat and put the whole thing in the fridge till it sets. When it does,  you can remove the terrine from the bowl, slice it and serve it. Enjoy your sviðasulta!

Micky Bumbar

Check out more tasty hangover cures from around the world

6 thoughts on “Sviðasulta, the traditional Icelandic hangover cure made from sheep’s head

  1. YUM! Sounds positiveleee deelishus! haha!

    Actually, it might be good if served with the right ingredients.

    In my culture we have cow head for a sunday morning treat. It is very steamed or smoked. only includes the cheeks , not the brains and is very tender. served with cilantro, onions and/or salsa on a tortilla.

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    • Oh cow head is amazing. Such tender meat. And actually now you mentioned preparing it this way, the water runs in my mouth. I would probably spice things up with some chile peppers or something.
      That settles it, got to visit the butcher soon! 😀

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