My last post (earlier today) talked about the preparations we go through for our Norwegian family Christmas. But of course the real event happens at the meals themselves…Christmas Eve dinner is our more traditional meal, while Christmas Day is usually a delicious, but not necessarily Norwegian affair. This year, the food was particularly outstanding…all but the dreaded lutefisk, that is.
What, you might ask, is lutefisk? It is a holdover from the Viking days, where (minus refrigeration and preservatives), cod is treated with lye and then soaked in water to remove the lye. We then get it frozen and ready to cook and eat. Why on earth would anyone eat a fish whose literal name means lye fish?! Tradition, of course! I could write a whole post on just lutefisk…the gelatinous, fish-flavored mess that we insist everyone eat a single bit of each year. But to keep it short and not cause undue suffering to all of you readers, suffice it to say that we have tried cooking the damn stuff every possible way, with no real improvement to the flavor. Until, that is, our Norwegian relatives came over to visit and showed us the way to make it palatable. Dry bake it, and then smother the stuff with bacon fat from bacon cooked in butter (yes, bacon cooked in butter!), the bacon crisps, whole grain mustard and pea stew. It’s actually not half bad that way! Here is my uncle holding the dreaded fish and the final plating of the small bite for everyone.
The only real saving grace for eating lutefisk is the Aquavit – a caraway based liquor that ages on a ship sailed south of the equator. It’s pretty tasty stuff, and does an excellent job of masking the lutefisk flavors! The name of the ship is usually printed on the bottle, which is kind of fun.
But on to the more exciting parts of the meal…we had a fabulous roasted pork leg along with some other traditional accompaniments, like my favorite cucumber salad in strong vinegar and fresh dill. We also make braised red cabbage that is fantastic. And of course, the lefse I mentioned in my previous post, followed by the Christmas cookies. All in all a great meal, and another fabulous Norwegian Christmas!
Now what’s really exciting is the sous vide machine I got as a Christmas gift from my fabulous husband. My next post will definitely be about trying out that wonder and the results!
Bon appetit, Skol, and Happy New Year to all!