The traditinal Norwegian cuisine is founded mostly in raw materials available in our country who is dominated by mountains, fjords, rugged landscapes and the sea. Therefore, it differs in many aspects of continental cuisine more focused on hunting and fish. Do not forget that Norway is a cold country, a factor that completely dominates the food culture of this country.
One of the traditional dishes and world famous due its popularity is the smoked salmon. It is one of the most exported Norwegian products and arguably one of the contributions of Norway cuisine to international cuisine. There are two ways of smoked salmon or other fish. The best known is coldsmoked and is what we see daily in all stores and the other is hotsmoked. The difference is that cold smoked the temperature never has to exceed 60 °, the process is long and the result is a salmon flavored dehydrated by the smoke. The hot smoking we use a metal box and in the bottom we put a handful of hardwood sawdust and the fish are placed on a rack above the sawdust. We fire up under the metal box and cook about 10 - 15 minutes. The fish is cooked in their own juice and get add the tast of smoke at the same time. We also have the gravlax (salmon marinated) which is a cured salmon with a mixture of salt and sugar, flavored with dill. The salmon is prepared in different ways, often served with scrambled eggs, mustard sauce or dill. The most peculiar fish dish from the kitchen is the rakfisk Norway. consisting of fermented trout. It smells rotten and it is recommended to eat outdoors.
The Norwegian export greater volume of food in the past has been dried cod. The variety known as Atlantic cod "skrei" has been an abundant source of food for several millennia. The annual fishing known as "Lofotfiske" has being done in the Lofoten archipelago. The tørrfisk (dried cod) has been internationally known for centuries, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, especially in Portugal.
A different way of cooking cod is the lutfisk. Cod prepared with a type of acid that makes it like clear jelly. A popular dish for Christmas in Norway served with many types of lining. This dish is very peculiar. People who try it love it or hate it. No middle ground.
A lot of fish dishes are popular today, all based on a variety of species such as salmon, cod, herring, trout and mackerel. Products served smoked, marinated, salted or pickled. We have hot smoked mackerel with freshly ground black pepper or herring, first salted and then stored with pickled vegetables, herbs and bittersweet lake. Every recipe is a product of the imagination to try to preserve food for a longer time.
Due to the availability of seafood along the coast, the dishes are usually served as fresh, usually cooked very lightly, steamed and seasoned with herbs, pepper and salt. Main dishes are shrimp from Greenland, crab, crayfish and russian crabs that lately are invading the coast of Norway. When fall arrives the season starts for crabs and people go to the docks and buy it directly from the fishing vessels freshly cooked. Another custom is to buy the shrimp directly from the fishing boats. Normally sold in liter, not kilos. Possibly the best in the world.
Prior to the twentieth century, whale meat was commonly used as a cheap substitute for meat cattle. Since prices in this century, due to legal restrictions imposed on this country (300 whales per year) have made the whale meat a delicacy much more rare and expensive. Eating whale meat, although is not common today, is a controversial issue in Norway. The taste of whale meat is like a normal meat and a deep red because the whale is a mammal animal.
Meat and hunting
The high cuisine use meat as moose, reindeer, deer and wild birds. These meats are hunted (except reindeer who the Lapps breed) and sold or given away as purely social act between neighbors. Today we often buy it in the stores and are often served at social occasions. These meats have a distinct taste, strong and are often served with condiments matching, such as wild berries, juniper and different tasty sauces.
There is a wide variety of meat salted and smoked, sometimes simultaneously. The sausages depends mainly on regional variations and exist in a great variety. A good example is the Morr Polse that it is a smoke-cured sausage.
Dishes are usually accompanied by sour cream, lefse (like the Mexican tortilla), wheat bread or Norwegian flatbread.
(See my recipe)
The lamb is a very popular in Norway and in the fall and is eaten in all parts of the country. One example is the fårikål (lamb stew accompanied by cabbage) it is possibly one of the dishes most loved by Norwegians and maybee the national dish of Norway. Is cooked by placing layers of cabbage and lamb with black peppercorns in a pot over low heat for a couple of hours.
Cured lamb ribs, and sometimes smoked, known as pinnekjøtt that are boiled for several hours on birch sticks in a pot, is traditionally served as Christmas dinner in all over of the country. Usually served with mashed rutabaga, boiled potatoes and a light sauce.
The Swede was the most used vegetables in Norway until Columbus brought the potato to Europe. It is still an important part of Nordic cuisine.
Other of the specialties is the fenalår, cured leg of lamb. We also have a favorite dish of my youngest daughter, Nordic meatballs. Served with cabbage, potatoes and jam. Lately very famous in the IKEA stores.
Due to the partial survival of medieval taboo against contact with dead horses, eating the flesh of the horse was almost unthinkable a few decades ago, but today it is used in some of the preparation of sausages.
There is a soup called "sodd", which has a long gourmet history and the recipe changs from one region to another. Don´t called it a soup to the norwegians because the sodd are sodd and not a soup. It is curious that today almost every purchase precooked, and you just add some vegetables or more meatballs. The meatballs are made with a mixture of meat.
Fruits and desserts
Fruits and berries mature very slowly in the cold climate of Norway. This phenomenon makes that the fruits have a tendency to a smaller volume and a more intense taste. Strawberries, apples, and cherries are popular and a part of a wide variety of desserts.
One of the most traditional desserts to accompany our holiday meals is rice cream with raspberry jam. (see my recipe)
It is very popular to serve German-style pastries served with sponge cake, and the danishpastry like the wienerbrød (Vienna bread). Also a place on the table we have the "kaffebrød" sweet breads and biscuits.
Cardamom is a common spice. Coffee is an extremely common part of the social life and we enjoy a cup before and after meals, with desserts or a liqueur. The normal medium Norwegian consumes 160 liters of coffee every year.
Typical drinks of Norway
Beer has long traditions in Norway. The Gulating law had strong sentences for those who didn´t make beer in the old time. The beer was to give "thanks" to Jesus and the Virgin Mary for a good year and peace. At the time of the Vikings they drank it from beer horns with 2 legs, a typical souvenirs sold today in stores. As in Germany we have law of the purity of beer and the Norwegians are proud of their good beer. There is a tradition we do every year and it is to make a special beer for Christmas (juleöl). Usually a beer with a little bit stronger flavor and degrees. Essential in the table at all holiday meals with a shot of akevitt.
The name of Akevitt comes from Latin "water of life." Usually based on fermented potatoes and flavoured with caraway and dill to give it a typical Norwegian snaps flavor.
We do not know when it started the manufacturing of akevitt in Norway but the first time it was named was in a letter from 1531. On a boat that sailed from Trondheim in 1805 was loaded with several barrels of akevitt among other things for sale in Malaysia, but they seld everything but not the akevitt and they brought it back. Just before Christmas two years later came the boat to Trondheim and everyone was agreed that the akevitt had improved in quality with the movement of the trip. This was how the linie akevitt was discovered. Akevitt barrels sent to Australia and back in a boat for optimal ripening process. The akevitt is a drink served with herring, cod, smoked fish and meats as pinnekjøtt and ribbe. It´s said that it helps to burn the fat from the food.
Another national drink is karsk. An alcoholic beverage done illegally in the home and mixed with coffee and sugar. Because of the high price of alcohol sold in the state owned stores, there are people who make their own alcohol at home. You can get it up to 96 ° alcohol and we mixed in a cup of coffee. First pour coffee to half a cup, then enter 1 dice of sugar, then add with the alcohol until we can see the dice of sugar and then ended up with a little more coffee until it the sugar disappears again . An authentic karsk.
We also have a mulled wine called glögg.
The glögg is another typical drink of Christmas and in the days with cold and bad weather.
Hot wine in a pot with ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, lemon juice, raisins, orange peel and sugar. Serve directly from the pot in small glasses. A good way to keep warm in a cold night.