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Out of the cold

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2015-09-11 08:05

Out of the cold

Fresh mackerel is among signature dishes at Sarfalik restaurant in Greenland's capital, Nuuk.

The cubes of seal meat were bright pink, greasy with fat, and fairly bland.

Two nights later I am eating seal again, this time at one of the few gourmet restaurants in Greenland. Chef Jeppe Nielsen, who has built an international reputation at the Ulo restaurant in Illulisat, reduces the seal flesh, onion and potato into a soup called suaasat, which is often described as the national dish of Greenland. Nielsen's version is a splash of the thick reduction in a plate, topped with green salad, fresh rings of white onion, and a heavy dusting of angelica "snow", a deconstruction of a local herb he says is a sure sign summer has arrived.

"I will always associate its characteristic aroma and taste with sunshine and warmth," Nielsen tells Air Greenland's inflight magazine, Suluk. "It is always a good day when the first angelica gets to the kitchen and its fragrance spreads though the air."

In the summer, Nielsen says, hardscrabble Greenland really lives up to its name, becoming a fruitful herb garden that his kitchen team eagerly harvests. Labrador tea, a rosemarylike herb with spiky leaves and a piney taste, favors a melt-in-your-mouth slab of halibut prepared with miso emulsion, bacon and burned heather. The plants never grow tall because of the short growing season near the Arctic Circle, but the low-to-the ground landscape also offers mushrooms like the birch bolete and the Arctic puffball, ubiquitous lichen (used mainly in desserts) and harebells, tiny blue wildflowers that "taste a little like strongly perfumed nuts".

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