Savoring Sylt: From Fish to Phariseer

Specialties from Germany’s Largest North Sea Island

The food on Sylt is a microcosm of North German cuisine, flavored with a tinge of North Sea air. Sylt is famous for its variety of ocean fish and other seafood, as well as the delicate flesh of lambs that graze on grasses in the low-lying salt marshes and on the dykes that hold back the sea. Sylt boasts the only oyster farm in Germany. Bright-red strawberries and golden-orange Sanddorn (sea buckthorn) berries thrive in Sylt’s sandy soils. And even a gourmet table salt, Sylter Meersalz, is “harvested” from the waters surrounding the island.

Fish specialties you’ll find on Sylt include pan-fried filets of North Sea salmon, gray mullet, and cod, served with mustard sauce and garnished with crayfish tails. Grilled mackerel and batter-fried herring. Whole fish baked in a sea-salt crust. Creamy-rich shellfish soups with a swirl of whipped cream melting on top. Northern-style “bouillabaisses,” fish stews filled with several kinds of seafood such as Miesmuscheln (mussels), known as “the blue-black gold of the North Sea” and Krabben, the tiny pink shrimp so popular in this part of Germany.

Meaty main dishes include kale cooked with smoked pork and sausages, served with boiled potatoes. Meats are often paired with fruits, such as pork stewed with apples and prunes, or thick slices of sow belly cooked with flat green beans and small pears. A favorite all-in-one, “surf-and-turf” dish is Labskaus, colorful red-beet-and-corned-beef hash topped with Rollmops (pickled herring) and a fried egg (sunny side up), with pickled gherkins on the side.

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