Rakfisk & Lutefisk
Traditional Norwegian Yule dishes that go back many centuries.
First is rakfisk. It is made of arctic char or trout, that is salted and fermented between 2 and 12 months. The flavor is similar to that of smoked salmon, with a stronger taste and much more pungent smell. Rakfisk is eaten raw. The term comes from “raskr” in Norrœnt (Old Norse), which means soaked, and “fisk” which means fish. Rakfisk is served as a filet and with flatbrød (traditional Norwegian unleavened bread made with barley flour, salt and water) as well as sour cream.
The origin of rakfisk can be traced back to the Viking age.
Second is lutefisk. It is cod that has been air dried outdoors and pickled in lye. Preparation involves rehydrating the fish for 5 to 7 days, with water being changed daily. Once saturated with water, it is then soaked again in the same water for 2 days. During that process, the fish swells and the protein content is increased by 50% also creating a jelly like texture. At that stage, however, the fish is saturated in lye and is therefore inedible (with a Ph of up to 12). Another treatment of soaking the fish in fresh cold water every day is then required for between 4 and 6 days. At that point, the fish is ready to be cooked. The texture is gelatinous and the taste is mild. Lutefisk is served in melted butter and with small pieces of fried bacon. Side includes boiled potatoes, mashed green peas, brown cheese, white sauce, coarse mustard and honey.
The origin of lutefisk can also be traced back to the Viking age when it was necessary to first dry the fish in order to conserve it and to use it as staple during raids and other travels.