Norway

Smoked Salmon or Røkt Laks

Salmon is a staple food when it comes to the Norwegian diet, with the country’s long coastline and many fjords producing ample amounts of fish. Due to the colder temperatures, the fish grow over a longer period of time, allowing them to develop a deeper and richer flavor. While salmon forms the basis of many Norwegian dishes, it can also be served on its own. Served mostly in a smoked form, it is widely known as Røkt Laks. Another way of preparing salmon is the gravlaks, which literally translates as ‘buried salmon’. Using a blend of salt, dill and sugar, the salmon goes through a process of being dry cured for 24 hours.

rokt laks

Tørrfisk

Tørrfisk, which is also known as stockfish, is typically made with cod, but sometimes consists of haddock or pollock. The method of cold air-drying is one of the oldest preservation techniques in the world, giving tørrfisk a long shelf life of up to several years. Tørrfisk is also cured through a fermentation process, by which cheese, for example, is matured. Special bacteria that can survive in freezing temperatures are used to slowly mature the fish, giving it a richer flavor. Tørrfisk can also form the basis of other fish meals, such as a delicacy called lutefisk.

Kjøttboller

Meat also makes up a number of popular Norwegian delicacies, such as kjøttboller or kjøttkaker. These can be described as rougher version of Swedish meatballs. Differing from their Scandinavian cousins, kjøttboller are a more loosely bound patty of beef, flavored with ginger and nutmeg before frying. These robust meatballs are usually served with either mashed or boiled potatoes before being drizzled with a cream sauce or a hearty gravy.

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Fårikål

Situated North, Norway regularly experiences long and harsh winters. Nothing warms Norwegians up more than a hearty stew, and in particular, a bowl of their favourite fårikål. Commonly found in more western parts of Norway, this robust mutton stew, made up from only a few ingredients, is relatively easy to prepare. Covered in water and cooked until the meat is tender, fårikål is conventionally served with a side of potatoes.

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Krumkake

Those with a sweet tooth can satisfy their cravings with krumkake. Translated as ‘curved or crooked cake’, krumkake consists of paper-thin rolls of a waffle-like pancake, which are then filled with whipped cream or any other desired filling. Krumkake can be said to be similar in style to an Italian pizzelle, being cooked in a special two-sided iron griddle. The griddles often print feature decorations onto the sides of the krumkake. Krumkake is available in most Norwegian bakeries, but one to try is Vaaland Dampbakeri & Conditori in Stavanger, which has been making Norwegian cake for over a hundred years.

krumkake

Pinnekjøtt

Christmas time in Norway sees the cooking of many unique and unusual delicacies including pinnekjøtt. This is a lamb-based dish, more commonly found in western and northern parts of the country. To prepare pinnekjøtt, the lamb must first of all be cured either by buying pre-cured meat, or, along with many Norwegian households, using traditional techniques with brine. To cook pinnekjøtt, the meat is steamed by whilst topped with birch branches, giving the specialty its name, which literally translates as ‘stick meat’. When the pinnekjøtt is fully cooked, it can be served with sausages, mashed potatoes and puréed swedes.

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Pølse med Lompe

Norway also has fast-food specialties for on-the-go eating, the most common being pølse. This popular sausage has a similar style and flavor to a hot dog or a frankfurter. An import from Norway’s neighbor Denmark, pølse became a favourite delicacy during the 1950s. Originally enjoyed either grilled or boiled, Western culture left its mark on this traditional food, and soon pølse were served with bread, or in their more Norwegian method, with lompe.

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Smalahove

Another festive specialty dish is the unusual and not for the faint-hearted smalahove, made from a sheep’s head. Originally associated with lower classes in Norwegian society, and more commonly eaten in its western parts, smalahove has now become a widespread Norwegian favorite. In order to create this dish, the skin and fleece of the sheep’s head must first of all be seared. After, the brain is removed, and the head is seasoned with salt and then air-dried. Occasionally the brain is left inside the head, being cooked along with the meat or fried and eaten separately. If the brain is removed, the salted and dried head is then boiled until cooked, and served with mashed potatoes or rutabaga.

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Finnbiff

Reindeer are unique to northern countries, and are often used in traditional Norse dishes and stews. One such stew is called finnbiff and consists of a number of flavorful ingredients mixed together to create a unique combination. First, the reindeer meat is cut into shavings which can be cooked quickly, before being browned in a pot alongside bacon and mushrooms. Next, water is added, leaving the meat and vegetables to boil and simmer which creates a rich stock of flavor. Finally, a mixture of crushed juniper berries, sour cream, thyme, milk and brown goat’s cheese are added. Lokk in Oslo makes tasty varieties of finnbiff, while Zupperia in Bergen specialises in a creamy rendition made with mushrooms.

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Akevitt

Used in the cooking process of many Norwegian delicacies, and typically consumed during festive occasion and celebrations, akevitt is Norway’s national drink. The name derives its roots from the Latin words aqua and vitae which translate as ‘water of life’. This alcoholic beverage is made from potato and is flavored with caraway, dill and other herbs and spices. Akevitt has a rich history of popularity in Norway, with its roots being traced back to the 15th century. Variations of akevitt can be found throughout Scandinavia, but Norway creates its own twist on the drink by maturing the beverage in oak casks.

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