Rakfisk or fermented fish, is a unique food speciality from Norway, similar in process to the making of cheese, and can be as odiferous as the French cheeses. With a soft texture; in extreme cases, the fish flesh is so soft you can spread it – on Norwegian flatbread of course. It’s served uncooked together with vegetables from the farm – potatoes, onion slices (white and red), egg, lefse or crispy thin flatbread and sour cream (click all pics to bigify and enjoy!):
This is how I eat it at our traditional Rakfisk at our family gathering each year. I have posted about it before (see the list at the end of this post) and this time I’ll give you a bit more about how it’s made and how we eat it:
What is Rakfisk & how to make it?
The word “rak” comes from the word “rakr” in the Norse language, meaning moist or soaked. Raking of fish is a preservation method where there is a fermentation process known back for thousands of years. Most use trout, scrubing so all the slime is gone, removing the gills and guts and rinsing well so that all the blood is washed away. Then the fish is rinsed and put it in vinegar solution for about half an hour and then in a tub with strait sides, close side by side with the abdomen up. The abdomen is filled with ocean salt, 60g per kg fish. Then the fish is put under pressure with a lid that fits down into the tub and a rock, and placed chilly for two to three months.
What to drink with Rakfisk?
Beer is a must or at least the most common in addition to the Norwegian herb liqueur; Aquavit. You get it in different flavour for different occasions – ours was Rakfisk Aquavit of course. We get it in a special carafe too:
Left: The carafe to the right – Right: The carafe top is you’re shot glass – cheers!
Family gathering around the table:
So now I’ve told you about the fish, how it is preserved, prepared and served – even what to drink along with the dish. What’s equally important and part of Norwegian traditions, is the gathering around the table. This is no fast food dish to be served to in a hurry! Anticipation and the party and conversation around the table is an important part of the cultural and culinary experience. It’s all about food and interacting in a traditional way; you can’t have one without the other:
After the seafood feast, you stretch out and go to the living room where the conversation goes on. Then it’s time for a night cap and a nice dessert – a culinary treat in itself:
Cheese cake and chocolate bonbons; served with brandy and coffee on porcelain with Norwegian floral decorations.
As you can see; this is a dinner filled with more than good food. It is just as much about the company, the traditions and getting together as it is about this unique fish dish. It’s something we look forward to every year and hope to be continuing for many years to come!
For those who want to read more about this Norwegian traditions; here is some of the previous posts from our Rakfisk feasts:
Rakfisk, a Traditional feast in Norway
Norwegian Family Tradition with Rakfisk
Rakfisk – a traditional Norwegian Yule dish