Rakfisk, a Traditional feast in Norway

Blogging about our culture and habits; I would like to share some of the most distinctive and traditional Norwegian dishes as it also involves a family gathering. This isn’t a daily type of dish, but hundreds of years old recipe eaten in December (at Yule tide – so it’s the modern thing: fridge, that makes us able to enjoy it even in March!). We are talking about Rakfisk, and let me show you my plate (all Porsgund Porcelain from my home town!) as I go on describing it (click on all pics to enlarge):

Rakfisk Dish #2
Rakfisk, almond potatoes, egg, onion, sour cream (to the left: Flatbread before I add butter)

The word “rak” comes from the Norse word “rakr”, meaning moist or soaked. It descends from Indo-European “req”, which mean source or drop, which is also related to the word rain and you can find the word in irrigation. The rakfisk is put into a bucked and then fluids (with ocean salt, a bit of sugar and water) are formed, it is brined. In the oldest sources, on the other hand, the rakfisk is mentioned as “brine- cured fish”. And of course, originally the fish was buried or put in underground cellars. The supposition for this conservation method is an even soil temperature at about 4 degrees Celsius, and that’s why the tradition is found around the polar circle at the northern hemisphere. Fish for raking is salmon, herring and shark in addition to the gwyniad. Trout/char are the most commonly used today.

What you drink to Rakfis is also very traditional and is a part of Norwegian history since the Vikings time: Beer of course and then Aquavit (distilled beverage from potatoes). Let me show you the table set with the plate, the glasses and the bottles:
Rakfisk Drinks
Mind the carafe or decanter to the left of the Aquavit bottle: Its a shot glass on top with your personal doze in the carafe.

What you serve together with Rakfisk, varies from districts and families. You’ve seen my plate, so let me show you how our hosts (my mothers cousin and husband) are doing it:
Rakfisk On Flatbread
On typical Norwegian Flatbread

I’ve told you this is an old, traditional feast so of course we are not finished yet. May I also emphasize that gathering around a nicely set table – for hours – talking about all kinds of things including updates in the family since last year – is an important part of the Norwegian habits. We are talking about slow food, story telling and enjoying each others company. No stress, no french fries but food made and eat with passion. So there is no feast without dessert – another Norwegian Yule tradition: Multekrem: made by mixing Cloudberries with whipped cream and sugar served with coffee avec:
Dessert #2

This is my 17th year in a row at this feast and my wife, Diane’s 9th. If you like to dig into more details. I have posted about the last two earlier: ‘Norwegian Family Tradition with Rakfisk‘ and ‘White, white snow of home‘. For this years feast, I took a lot of more pictures and have as usual, collected them in a movee:

You all know I love comments as it enriches the subject to hear the reactions from all over the world. If you know of similar kind of foods from your country, I would love to hear about it!