Located in the Land of the Midnight Sun, Norway is a country that offers unique experiences. It’s a place sprinkled with waterfalls, fast rivers, majestic mountains and glaciers, crystal clear lakes, fjords and quiet fishing villages.And how can we forget about the delicious Norse dishes?
Norway’s distinctive cuisine has been shaped by its 100,000-kilometer coastline, by its long winters and brief summers, by the forests that cover a third of its surface, and by the mountains that cut west off from east. Norwegian food will certainly make a great impression on any gourmand.
Here are some of Norway’s greatest and strangest specialties.
Klippfisk is basically “cliff fish”, dried and salted cod, in a tradition dating back to the 17th century.
Smalahove is a Western Norwegian traditional dish made from a sheep’s head, originally eaten before Christmas. The name of the dish comes from the combination of the Norwegian words hove and smale.”You have to try it once in your life. This is amazing thing,” says Eirik Braek, owner of Oslo deli Fenaknoken, holding up a whole sheep’s head.
“You start with the eyes,” says Braek, because the fatty areas taste better warm. “This one you have to serve hot.”
Skrei or cod is one of Norway’s greatest exports but one specialty that hasn’t been such a hit abroad is cod tongue. The cut is less the actual tongue than the underside of the cod chin, should you find “cod chin” sounds more appealing. The best way to wrap your lips round some cod tongue is to toss them in seasoned flour and fry them in butter.
The cold waters mean seafood takes longer to grow, making the flesh is extra plump and tender. In the Norway episode of “Culinary Journeys,” Holmboe Bang and Maaemo’s diver Roderick Sloan feast on “salty, intensely sweet” Great Scallops, served in their shell with reindeer moss and juniper.
People love fish so much, says Braek, that they’ll drink Omega 3 at Christmas to line their stomachs pre-revelry: “Just a small scoop. You can have more alcohol, maybe.”
Traditional Norwegian cuisine is based on not letting any natural resources go to waste. Seagulls are found in vast amounts all over Norway, this way of turning a pest into a resource is only done in the North. Seagull eggs are 2-3 times the size of a normal chicken egg and have a milder flavour. They can be used for any kind of cooking such as omelettes, sauces and baking. Cakes and pancakes made with seagull eggs turn out extra light and fluffy.
There are probably no other Christmas foods in Norway that cause such a division as lutefisk. You either love it or hate it, praise it or ridicule it. Lutefisk is made from stockfish (air-dried fish) that receives a lengthy and rough treatment before cooking. After drying, the fish is reconstituted in cold water for a week, then soaked in a lye (caustic soda) solution for two days. The name “lutefisk” literally means lye fish and bears its name from this treatment.
Gammelost, also spelt as Gamalost or Gammalost, is a distinctive Norwegian cheese made from skimmed cow’s milk. Since its production is an extremely laborious process, the cheese that was once the staple of a Norwegian diet, is today not made in mass quantities. It is extremely rare to find it outside Norway. Like many other Norwegian products like flat bread and stockfish, Gammelost can be stored for a long duration without refrigeration.
Cloudberries are the Norwegian berry. They are highly prized because simply, they are hard to get. Cloudberries are not commercially grown and so hand picking in the mountains is the only way for even the shops to get their hands on them. It is not the best situation going into mosquito infested swamps doing back breaking work. Growing them yourself is almost imporssible. It takes about 7 years for a seed to grow to blossom and they will only do that in the perfect situation.
They have a tart appleish flavor and are often made into jam.
Norwegian fish dish made from trout or sometimes char, salted and fermented for two to three months, or even up to a year, then eaten without cooking.
Rakfisk is very is considered a fish delicacy and is served with lefse (flat bread), sour cream, real butter and onion. Because of its extremely strong taste and smell, it is common to drink beer and a strong Norwegian spirits (Aquavit) when eating it.