15 December 2017

Lutefisk - "It's a acquired taste"

Lutefisk was created as a way to preserve fish, prior to refrigeration. The cod was dried on outdoor racks. Then, to make it expand, it was soaked in water and then in lye, which was made out of wood ash. Lye expands the fish to an even bigger size than when it was dried, and gives lutefisk its characteristic jelly-like quality...

"Lutefisk sales, ever since I started [in 1995] has dropped down, I would say, anywhere from 5 to 8 percent a year," said Chris Dorff, president of the Olsen Fish Company in Minneapolis, the only high-volume producer of lutefisk left in the country.

Still, the dinners persist, and Dorff said the churches he sells to report that attendance has held firm — there's just a lot less lutefisk stomached. Dorff said he used to plan a pound of fish per person. Now he cuts that in half.
More information in an article at the Minnesota Public Radio website.  And if you think lutefisk sounds disgusting, remember at least it's not kiviaq.


  1. Lutefisk The piece of cod that passeth all understanding.

  2. Having lived in Stoughton Wisconsin, I know about lutefisk and lefse. The former, to me, was inedible, the latter, almost edible...

  3. Every Christmas my father used to ask my mother to make lutefisk and mother promptly refused. She did make it a few times though. The smell when you prepare it is quite pungent and the taste when you eat it is rather unremarkable.

  4. Properly prepared it tastes almost nothing. It's like tofu made of fish. The preparation and sauces give the flavour. We have it at christmas table* every year, I never eat it. (* swedish christmas dinner is traditionally a smörgåsbord, so there's maybe 40 dishes.)

  5. In my family in Finland, my father is really the only one who likes it, but for him it's one of the highlights of the year and he might go through a kilogram or two over the christmas season. We have it every christmas, often at lunch on Christmas Day along with leftovers from the previous night's christmas dinner. My dad eats a lot and everyone else politely has a taste. Like Mirar said above, it doesn't have a strong flavour. We eat it with boiled potatoes, topped with béchamel sauce, salt, black and white pepper. It's a gelatinous mass that tastes like béchamel sauce and pepper.

  6. I make handmade soap and, of course, use lye. I always buy food grade lye as opposed to drain cleaner. I wondered what dish could possibly be made from the highly caustic stuff. Humph, still don't quite understand how that could be edible.

    1. Pretzels are washed in a weak lye solution before baking. It's what gives them that special crust.

  7. In the computer game "Dungeons of Dredmor", lutefisk is one of the foodstuffs you can find lying around the dungeon. Its official description: "Lutefisk, a traditional Norwegian fish product, was invented by the Vikings as an easier way of instilling fear in their enemies than raiding and pillaging. It is traditionally inflicted upon young Norwegians by their grandparents, and is described by one famous author as 'the world's largest chunk of phlegm'."

    Although you *can* eat the Lutefisk, this is not advisable, as it heals only 1 life point. A better use of it is to tithe it to the Lutefisk God, donating all your collected lutefisk at statues scattered around the dungeons. The Lutefisk God, once you have sacrificed enough, will eventually present you with a fishy-smelling but useful artifact. You can also find a magical device called the Horadric Lutefisk Cube, which has the power of changing anything placed inside it to a piece of lutefisk.


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