As with other Scandinavian countries, Norway’s cuisine features a lot of fish – what better way to make great use of the surrounding seas? This also means that a lot of the national dishes started life as food designed to feed hungry fishermen who spent all day on the water and needed something hearty to keep them going.
It’s not all fish, though, as passionately reared meat is also an important staple in the kitchen. A focus on high-quality raw ingredients has influenced a new generation of Nordic cuisine that puts a modern twist on traditional dishes and has elevated Norwegian cooking on the world stage.
These are just a few things to try on your next trip.
We start our list with one of the biggest fish delicacies in Norway, especially eaten in the far north and on the west coast. Cod (or sometimes haddock or Pollock) is dried in the cold air on large wooden racks that can hold hundreds of fish at one time. This preservation process has been used for centuries and is one of the best ways to give the fish a much longer shelf life.
The air-dried fish is then soaked in lye (which gets washed off later) to give it a kind of mushy texture. It’s usually served with a sweet sauce to create the salty-sweet flavour that Norwegians love.
The Swedish have their meatballs but the Norwegians have Kjøttboller. These rounds of meat are more rustic than those served by their neighbours and typically include the flavours of ginger and nutmeg. The fact that a meat grinder was needed to prepare these in the past meant that Kjøttboller was known as a dish for the upper classes. However, they are eaten all over Norway these days and served with potatoes, creamed cabbage and gravy.
The coastal areas preserve their fish by air drying it in the cold, but further inland, other methods are used. Rakfisk is made by placing trout in a barrel, coating it with salt and covering it with spruce branches until it ferments. After a few months, the fish is removed and spread on top of traditional potato flatbreads with butter, sour cream and some red onion. Be prepared for a distinct smell but don’t let it put you off from trying this popular delicacy.
Along with fish, Norwegians are also very proud of their lamb. Given the space to roam and vast pastures on which to feed, the meat is very tender and is used to make many different dishes. Fårikål is a simple stew made to combat the long winters that are experienced this far north. Lamb chops are slow cooked alongside cabbage, black pepper and a little bit of flour, before being served with jacket potatoes. It was originally cooked with mutton but lamb is used more often than not these days.
If you’re looking for a dessert that isn’t too sweet to finish off your meal, Svele is a great choice. On the surface, they look a bit like pancakes, and they stack just as well, but they are much thicker and are flavoured with vanilla. Although purists will choose to eat theirs without a topping, berries, ice cream and traditional Norwegian brown cheese (actually caramelised whey discarded from the cheese making process) all make great accompaniments.
If you would like to plan a trip to Norway so you can try some of these delicious dishes, we can tailor-make a holiday to your requirements. From an Oslo city break to chasing the Northern Lights in Tromso, we can do it all. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or contact us through the website.