Wednesday, August 15, 2007

LutefiskA Norwegian specialty, dating back to the time of the Vikings, lutefisk is made from air-dried whitefish, usually cod, prepared with lye (a caustic/alkaline ingredient/industrial chemical which is used in cleaning too!)

Preparation involves a series of soaking the fish in water then in the lye and then back in the water; each process is several days so depending on which recipe is used it can take from 5-14 days to prepare this fish. After the long, ardent process you get a fish that is depleted of all vitamins and flavour but then is cooked in salt water to revive the fish. Strange, non?

During the soaking in lye and water the fish will swells to a larger size than in its original (undried) state and it morphs into a jelly-like consistency. When this treatment is finished, the fish is still saturated with lye and has a pH value of 11–12, and is therefore caustic (corrosive).

To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is needed. Eventually it is ready to be cooked and served.

Popular around Christmas, it is washed down with a strong potato based spirit called Aquavit.

Lars the Norwegian Paul McCartney has this to say about Lutefisk,

'It is something people either love or hate. Traditionally people who love it, have it at Christmas, and it really fills up the restaurants in November and December. Very few make their own - it is just to much work, but at Christmas it can be bought ready for cooking.

I hate the stuff, and can not understand why one destroys the best fish like this. To b
e able to eat it, people need some of this: which is also a part of Norwegian tradition. That part I like.'In the pic above- lutefisk is the white stuff on the top left hand side of the plate.

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