Rakfisk dish as traditional fish delicacy from Norway

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!):
Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #1
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.

Up until lately, it was to be bought in barrels, but now you may also buy the fish vacuum packed and where the head, tail and skin are removed:
Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #2 Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #3

Then you just have unwrap, fillet, remove the bones and slice the fish:
Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #6 Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #7

Well prepared and sett on plates, this is the fish and condiments on the table:
Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #8 Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #9

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:
Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #10 Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #11
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:
Rakfisk traditional fish delicacy in Norway #1

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:
Dessert at a Rakfisk feast in Norway #2 Dessert at a Rakfisk feast in Norway #1
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

34 Comments

  1. What is your basic food in Norway?

    Since this kind of menu is only on our plate when there is prestigious occasion

    RennyBA:
    Check my post in the category “Food” and you’ll find plenty of examples.

  2. Makes me think of “bagoong”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrimp_paste

    but rakfish looks definitely better !

  3. chocolate bon bon lol ! seem tasty ..

  4. Thank you for sharing a bit of Norway culture. Not a big fish girl but it looks lovely and I love the cheese cake and chocolates now you are speaking my language! Have a wonderful week.

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  6. Oh yes, I think I would love it. I LOVE all fish!!!!

  7. Tusen Takk ! Looks delicius !

    Hugs

    Maria

  8. The Vacuum Packed Rakfisk is very delicious and easy to serve. And since we now can buy it all year around, I’ll think we must serve it during the OsloBG;).
    By the way, The A-ha Farwel Concert Tournement will be in Oslo on Saturday August 21, 2010.
    http://a-ha.com/tour/

  9. Fermented raw fish soft enough to be spread on bread just doesn’t do it for me although it is a lovely tradition.

  10. I’m sure I’d love it! I’m a fish person (I don’t eat meat much) and I like strong sour taste. The dish looks lovely… you definitely know how to enjoy (and prepare!) food.

  11. Fish is really healthy! I wish the smell of it didn’t disgust me, I really want to start eating it more.

  12. Everything looks delicious, Renny. I’ve seen all your other posts on rakfisk, of course. :-)

    Happy almost Spring, Renny! Hope you have a great new week.

    Love and hugs,

    Diane

  13. That’s a very interesting dish. The desserts look enticing. Good food and great company makes dining a worthwhile experience.

  14. Sounds like the Swedish surströmming – only less smelly!

  15. Can I pass on the fish and just have beer :)

  16. It looks delicious!
    I would say it was salmon because of the colour, but of course there are trouts with salmon colour.
    When I visited Norway I ate salmon everyday, in many diferent ways of cooking it. I love fish.
    I hpoe to try rakfish in our Oslo Blog Gathering.

    Cheers!

  17. I have never tasted rakfish and I’d love to try it. It’s great to have some good company to enjoy traditional food.

  18. I liked your tradition of eating together. We too have such get together. I think it is a nice custom as it brings family and friends together and strengthens the relationship.I am learning about Norway now.

  19. Here in Philippines we are proud to say that we have also the same tradition. Together as a family and relatives we eat together

  20. We’ve tasted rakfisk and it’s delicious – even though I’m no true fish-lover! I’m very picky ;-)

    It’s nice with old traditions, hope they won’t vanish with the youngsters….

    Not only the food is nice, I love the fine table linen cloth & the ones with laces too! Handmade I presume of some other relative?

  21. I’ll try anything once…so I want to try some Rakfisk! Interesting post, Renny.

  22. I would love to try this someday. It sounds really interesting.

  23. We know here that fish is a tradition food in Norway; is true? I want this it, delicious Rakfish ! And I love all photos, as usually!

  24. Smalahove isn’t bad if you can get past your food staring at you, and its interesting to see it prepared (essentially run through a flamethrower, at least at the place in Voss I had it).

  25. You have no idea how much I’d like a slice of the cheesecake

  26. Takk for hyggeleg helsing på bloggen min!gratulera som bestefar det er ein stor opplevelse seier alle til meg ,-)!Eg skall bli bestemor snart i Mai ,-)me gler oss enormt det er første barnebarnet,Rakefisk er godt eg liker å prøve forskjellige mat retter ha ein strålande dag klem Lisen

  27. and I love fishes..I believed you truly had a great time!

  28. all the foods were greatly decorated! yummy!

  29. forgot to thank you for all the visits and comments you made to my blogs while I was away for a three months vacation in my home country, Philippines. I truly appreciate all. Thanks a lot Renny!

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  32. I really like your blog and i really appreciate the excellent quality content you are posting here.

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