In addition to the foods that I previously posted about, I also brought cans of monk fish liver and cod liver back with me. Many brands of fish oil supplements are derived from fish livers, so I was curious to try the unprocessed source.

According to the internets, they’re quite healthy, good for your heart and brain, and high in omegas and vitamins A and D. I was a little worried that the texture might be like beef liver (which I’m picky about) or that the taste might resemble fish oil supplements (which just tastes like fishy oil), and was happy when none of these concerns came true.

Here’s what the packages look like:

The side of the box described them as Icelandic delicacies that are best enjoyed straight from the can.

I decided to start with the monk fish liver, because monk fish meat is among my favorites. In case you’re not familiar with monk fish, they’re super ugly (Google them!) but their meat is sweet and fleshy, kind of like shrimp. It’s sometimes used as faux lobster.

Before opening the can, I imagined the contents might look like a bunch of tiny livers all lined up.

Drawing of a happy fish with a visible liver by my husband, D.M. Higgins.

Here’s what it actually looked like inside:

Monk fish liver

The texture is like a chunky but soft and spreadable paté. I took a bite and it was DELICIOUS! The flavor is sweet like monk fish meat and also buttery. It doesn’t taste like liver. The flavors of fish and oil are present but very mild and take a backseat to the delicate buttery sweetness. I seriously want to eat monk fish liver regularly!

I decided to put the rest of it on some freshly baked Danish white bread (hvedebrød) from the bakery next door.

Monk fish liver is my new favorite thing. Because the taste is sweet, much like monk fish meat, it makes me wonder if the cod liver will taste quite different, since cod meat is it’s own distinct thing.

On a different morning, I opened the can of cod liver. It looks quite different from the monkfish liver – and a lot more like what I imagined fish liver would look like.

I spread the cod liver on the same bakery bread that I used before. The cod liver also tasted a lot more like I expected. It’s fishier and less buttery than the monkfish liver, but still really good. The flavor is stronger than the monkfish, but still not strong per se. It’s moist and the oil has a really pleasant and light taste. Like the monkfish liver, the cod liver had a gentle paté taste that was more flavorful and less pungent compared to a duck paté, for example.

For me, the monkfish liver was a clear winner. It has a really delicate and delicious taste and is easy to eat in larger quantities, like on a slice of bread. I will eat it all the time if I can find it locally. It’s really special.

The cod fish liver is also very delicious. If you served it on a cracker at a party, most of your guests would be delighted. Because the flavor is stronger, it’s less suitable on a full slice of bread or on a daily basis…at least for my palette.

Since I’m a neuroscientist who studies individuality and context, I should probably also acknowledge that flavors will taste differently to you depending on what foods you regularly eat. If you enjoy fish and paté, then I highly recommend trying Icelandic fish liver. See what you think!

Published by Dr. Daina Crafa

International neuroscientist. I study culture and sometimes make art. Italian-American, currently working in Amsterdam. Professional author. Photohobbyist. Full-time adventurer.

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