Lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) must surely be
the strangest culinary effort credited to the Norwegians,
but what a treat when prepared properly. Everyone of
course is not a devotee of lutefisk, but those who are
defend it vehemently. Others go to the opposite extreme
and claim it's a national disgrace. In years past, the
homemaker had to go through the complicated task of
treating the dry fish with lye, but now, even in America,
frozen lutefisk is readily available at selected fish
markets and at Scandinavian delicatessens.
Cooking lutefisk the old fashioned
way: Do not cook in aluminum vessels as it will
darken the kettle. Use three level tablespoons salt
to each quart water. Bring water to boil, add salt and
return to boil. Add fish which has been sliced into
serving pieces and again return to boil, then remove
from the heat. Skim, and let fish steep for 5 to 10
minutes depending on thickness. Serve at once.
Without adding water: Put the serving pieces of lutefisk in a kettle, season
each pound (450 g) of fish with 1/2 tablespoon of salt
and place over low heat. This allows the water to be
"drawn" out. Bring to a boil and remove from
heat. Let steep 5 to 10 minutes. Serve at once.
Baking in foil: Heat
oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Skin side down,
arrange lutefisk on a sheet of double aluminum foil
and season with salt. Wrap foil tightly about fish and
place on rack in a large pan and bake 20 minutes. Cut
corner from foil and drain out excess water. Serve at
Lutefisk with a firm texture can be obtained by first
sprinkling with coarse salt and allowing to stand several
hours. Rinse well in cold running water, and soak in
unsalted water. Then cook or bake as desired.
Lutefisk must be served hot on piping hot plates. Accompaniments
vary from bacon or pork drippings, white sauce, mustard
sauce, or melted butter which seems to remain a favorite.
Boiled and steamed potatoes, stewed whole, dry green
peas are a must as a vegetable accompaniment. The only
other necessary additions are freshly ground pepper,
lefse, or flatbread. In some parts of Northern Norway,
lutefisk is served with melted goat cheese.
Ekte Norsk Mat--Authentic Norwegian Cooking is
available for purchase, through the Vesterheim bookstore. Call toll free at (800) 979-3346.