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European-American Topics - Cuisine - Lutefisk

Lutefiskal Responsibilities
By Kregg P.J. Jorgenson *

Posted March 30, 2008

Most academics are under the impression that 8th, 9th and 10th century Vikings invaded England, Ireland, Scotland, and France in search of wealth, status or land.

  Being of Danish and Norwegian descent I know this is nonsense.

  The simple and most obvious truth was that my ancestors cranked up their longboats in search of better cuisine, tastier seasonal seasonings, and the convenient row-thru windows when they were pillaging the McDonald’s clan.

  It’s true.  In fact, three rune related recipes were recently discovered in the coastal village of Yasureyabetcha, Norway shedding some insight to the frustrating foodstuffs of the Berserkers.

 

  Recipes #1: Fish in a white sauce.

  Recipe # 2: White sauce with fish.

  Recipe # 3: Fish, white sauce and (wait for it…) small green peas.

 

  Okay, so there’s no coastal village in Norway named Yasureyabetcha but any American or Canadian of Nordic descent will tell you that these are still Scandinavian staples as is the culinary challenged taste treat known as Lutefisk.

  While there are those who swear that Lutefisk is a fine Nordic dish served on holidays others who have tasted the jellified fish concoction (and do a little swearing of their own) say that the only good thing about most Lutefisk recipes is the redeeming final step that reads: ‘add lots of butter.’ The butter, by the way, while making the Lutefisk marginally tolerable, does a lot to help mask its odious odor as well.

  “The smell alone can take the paint of a Volvo at ten meters,” said a friend of Swedish extraction when I mentioned the dish.

  “You’re exaggerating,” I said and after a long pause he reluctantly agreed.

  “You’re right. It’s more like five meters.”

  Here’s why he believes that’s the case.

  “Basically,” he said, “Lutefisk is dried cod fish soaked for four or five days in water, then soaked with in water and lye for several more days, then back to a good soak again with water to keep the mix from turning into soap.”

  “Soap?”

  “Picture an Irish Spring commercial only without any good looking woman saying ‘Ya, and I like it too!’ Anyway, you soak it until the Lutefisk has the same smell and consistency of frozen fisherman’s flem, then it’s ready. That mental image tantalizes the taste buds, does it?”

  If you’ve ever caught a whiff of Lutefisk or tasted it without butter then you know the description wasn’t all that far off especially if the fisherman in question was chewing on a cube of salt free butter.

   Finally to prove my point about the Vikings I offer up an old Scandinavian cookbook that a relative gave me and in it -and I’m not making this up- was a recipe for Lutefisk Pudding.

  Lutefisk pudding?

  Ya sure, there it was, the recipe for Lutefisk Pudding in four easy to follow steps.

  Here is the list of ingredients: cups of white rice, two cups of cooked Lutefisk, two eggs, and two cups of cream.

 

  Step One: Cook rice in salted boiling water.

  Step Two: Mix rice and Lutefisk together.

  Step Three: Add in butter, cream, salt and pepper to taste.

  Step Four: Bake in a buttered dish and serve with butter.

  A final sentence with this recipe claims that this is a good way to use up any leftover Lutefisk which begs the question:

  Won’t there always be leftover Lutefisk?

* Kregg P.J. Jorgenson is the author of the travel book Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Passing Through     

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