Sunday, September 26, 2010

Viking Fare: Challenge #2

My husband is a large, freckled, red-head. Very viking-esque.
My son was born 10lb 2oz. Favorite activity: clubbing things with large sticks. We named him Bjorn (Norwegian for "bear").
Did you notice there are no double dots above the "o" in my son's name? A real Norwegian would have the double dots and pronounce it "Byern." I say "Bee-yorn." I don't care cause I'm not Norwegian.

It's criminal I know. I should make more of an effort. But before you get too down on me, let me point out . .

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Vikings (violent)

King Harold the Ruthless (He's the one with the arrow in his throat)

Edvard Munch, Norwegian (scary)

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Minnesota Vikings, Norwegian inspired (they stink)

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Lutefisk. Uff Dah!

Lutefisk (translated: lye-fish) is stockfish (dehydrated white fish, most often cod), reconstituted in saltwater then soaked in lye until the pH is just right. Why? To preserve it of course . . . duh! What else would you use lye for beside laundry, dishes, and major household cleaning? Once the lutefisk is properly saturated, simply boil it up, slap it with butter, and you've got Christmas supper. What do those Viking have against Christmas anyway?

Still, my children are 50% Norwegian. I should make an effort.

Therefore, out of diplomacy (and a challenge from Project Food Blog), I've decided it is time to embrace (or at least stomach) the fare of my in-laws.

After making many phone calls to local grocers and spelling "L-U-T-E-F-I-S-K" even more times, I finally tracked down some frozen lye-fish. $9.99 per pound?! You've got to be kidding me! I suppose I can afford it just this once. Still $24.98 a package is hard to swallow.


Next up, I scoured the internet for recipes. Turns out, the only cooking technique you must master as a Norwegian is boiling - boiled Lutefisk with the traditional boiled potatoes (Kokte melne poteter), stewed peas (Grønn ertestuing), and stewed fruit (Sot Suppe). Let's do this!


LUTEFISK
Cooking lutefisk the old fashioned way: Do not cook in aluminum vessels as it will darken the kettle.

1. Use three level tablespoons salt to each quart water. Bring water to boil, add salt. Add fish which has been sliced into serving pieces and return to boil, then remove from the heat.
2. Skim, and let fish steep for 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness. Serve at once.

Many other recipes suggested serving with butter and lemon. I chose to substitute the butter for garlic infused olive oil.

The Verdict:

Josephine and Georgia are good little Norwegians.

Ryan, Bjorn, and I are not.



Jello-fish, the common description for Lutefisk, doesn't even come close to describing the gut-wrenching, hurl-inducing qualities of this evil concoction. First, you smell it - that quintessential "fishy" smell. Initial taste bud contact - salt. Not bad. Then comes the slippery slime texture over the tongue. I think to myself, "Just chew a couple times and swallow. This isn't so bad!" Right? Wrong! Some how this fall-apart-fish is chewy between the teeth! Before gagging a third time, I spit out the fish. Plop into the grass. I'll let the slugs and ants have this one . . . if they want it.

In the meantime the potatoes and peas, albeit bland, do the trick at filling the tummy. Grape juice with lemon and frozen blueberries wash it all down - not Norwegian, but needed.

Then came the pay off - Sot Suppe! A cross between tapioca pudding, compote, and pie filling - sot suppe is the perfect finish to a fishy meal. The prunes, raisins, and currants fell apart while the apples retained their shape and added textural variety. With its concentrated goodness, the richness of sot suppe went a long way. There was more than enough leftover to serve for breakfast over yogurt and freeze for another time.

SOT SUPPE (sweet soup) - recipe adapted from ElaineAnn's recipe at http://www.food.com/
Ingredients
1/2 cup minute tapioca
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup apple, peeled and chopped
3 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 cups grape juice
1 cup currant
1 cup pitted prunes

Directions
Add tapioca to water. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add all ingredients but grape juice. Let stew until apples are tender (about 30 minutes). Add grape juice and serve hot or cold. I added some hazelnuts to finish it.
SUMMARY
Norway loses 2 to 3 (if you don't count dessert). Still, I'll wear the 10-year-old Vikings shirt that my hubby gave me when we were dating. It's stiff and scratchy from very few wearings/washings. But I've kept it! Isn't that enough?

To vote for me in Project Food Blog's second challenge, The Classics, click here or on my Project Food Blog pic in the upper right corner, create a FoodBuzz account if you haven't already, and make sure you select the little heart to show that you love it (the post, not lutefisk). Voting starts on MONDAY. Thanks!

If you haven't already, make sure you become a "Fresh Follower" and never miss a post.

62 comments:

  1. ENJOYED! Love the entire post! You are my ilk!

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  2. Hmm. . . After this post, the Vikings finally won a game! I like this topic.

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  3. jello-fish - I would try it - I have a friend in Norway that sent me some of their rankest cheese...I like it. good luck - this is a great post!

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  4. I love your honesty in this blog post! I made a dish from my fiance's heritage for the same reason - to have a connection to his family and heritage! I hope we both advance to the next round of #PFB2010!

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  5. What a fun post...well written and definitely a good read :)

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  6. I love, love, love ertestuing!! Not such a fan of lutefisk, though. ;) Fyi, Bjorn with dots over the "o" would be Swedish....would be Norwegian with a line through the "o." :) :)

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  7. Love the post! Am still smiling. :-) You have my vote tomorrow. Good luck!

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  8. Love this post. I never understood the attraction to lutefisk. I guess tradition has a strong hold on us all.

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  9. This is a great way to celebrate the family!! Those photos are too adorable!

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  10. Lindsey -- I sooooo enjoy the feeling conveyed in your photos. You're surely a front runner and I wish you much luck!! Excellent post, like your first.

    Shelly, Nibble of Tidbits

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  11. Ha! Love the look on Bjorn's face. My feelings exactly. I'll send a vote your way tomorrow.

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  12. You are bold. I'm thankful my hubby is French-Canadian, and all I feel compelled to make is Rappie Pie (poached chicken topped with potato-based wallpaper glue). Bland? Yes, but it's not Lutefisk!

    I hope your hubs appreciates you taking one for the team - now it's his turn! :)

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  13. Love this entry- you just got my vote!

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  14. Great entry! I voted for you :)

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  15. I've found a fellow Scandinavian food adventurer! I was laughing, as I would have had the same response you did...gagging! Hilarious good fun. You are brave my friend and your kids are precious. nice job, hope to see you in the next round!

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  16. I laughed so hard thinking about my first experience with Lutefisk. In 1980 we moved to MinneSNOWta and I had little to cook with until the furniture arrived. The handwritten sigh in the grocery store looked like lute fish. I baked it and baked it and baked it and it just kept getting more gelatinous. I thought something was wrong with the oven and wondered what was making that terrible smell. We finally threw it out and ate hot dogs. Later I had a rice and lutefisk dish that was tolerable but avoid the annual church suppers which feature the stuff. Have you heard the song "Oh, Lutefisk" by the Uppers? (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) It is sung to the tune of "Oh, Christmas Tree".

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  17. you got my vote on the story alone...unique, I must say!

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  18. Loved this post. Loved the looks on the kids faces even more... ;-)

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  19. That was hilarious and um I'll never, ever make that fish. You have my vote for sheer bravery. Good luck in the next stage of the competition.

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  20. This made me laugh! My husband and I are both of Scandinavian descent, and one of the main reasons I didn't cook something Scandinavian for this Challenge was because of the icky preserved fish factor. I know there's some good stuff up there, but lutefisk is not some of it. :)

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  21. Hee! Slimy-chewy-Viking-y? I'm on your side. The anti-lutefisk side. Fantastic post, and 2 out of 5 people in your sample think lutefisk is just dandy! Not bad!

    My Beloved and I say "That's lutefisk!" instead of "That's ludicrous!" You can too, if you want:)

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  22. My grocery store sells jarred lutefisk. I've always wanted to try it, but well, when I think about it, fish in a jar doesn't sound that appetizing. Is it weird I think your fresh version still sounds good? ;)

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  23. I had a coworker that used to crave lutefisk. They always at it at some Norwegian gathering in Elgin, TX. She would talk about it for weeks prior. It was odd. I'm with you, scary stuff!

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  24. I cannot believe it is that expensive! Growing up in Minnesota I saw it at a lot of grocery stores but have never seen it elsewhere. You get my vote for courage.

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  25. You are a brave woman to have made and tried that! LOL

    Your kids are so cute. I love finding other moms in the blog world. :)

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  26. I immediately liked you. Love the post! I voted for you....good luck!

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  27. hahah i love this, especially the different "food faces." very unique.
    voted for you!

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  28. You had me laughing so hard. the looks on your, your husband's and your son's faces are priceless. It sounds absolutely dreadful, but you tried, and that's what counts! At least you had a great dessert to wash it down with.

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  29. What a post!! Did not make me want to try lutefisk, but just loved the post and you get kudos for an adventurous nature!

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  30. I love all the "first impression" faces. Hilarious! Excellent work on this challenge, too bad it wasn't very tasty.

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  31. Hilarious! But I'm totally going to have nightmares about Jello-fish tonight. you've got my vote...

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  32. The kids' expressions were definitely worthy of an authentic giggle - thanks!
    As my guy is also a rather tall Viking, I've had to sit through a couple of holiday lutefisk tastings. Can't get past the texture, and coming from someone who's eaten lake fly pie (East Africa - see a horde of flies comin' off the lake, grab a handful and smoosh) that's saying something. Lutefisk - the fifth state of matter!
    Sending a vote your way!

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  33. You all are cracking me up! And I am so saying "lutefisk" instead of "ludicrous." Thanks pastry chef! And Rachael, you keep your fly pie and I'll keep my fifth state of matter - hilarious and appropriate!

    You all have made my day and made my kids feel very famous!

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  34. And thanks Carrie B. for the double dot info! I am so out of touch with my family's heritage!

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  35. Love this post! Definitely have my vote! Good luck!

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  36. Great post! Hilarious. I voted for you!

    Good luck! =)

    You can check out my PFB post at :http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/864

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  37. This is so cool! Never heard of this soup, and it sounds like a good one to know. The fish is one that we might pass up, but it's awesome you tried it. We've had experiences like that before where our experiment was not as tasty as we hoped. :) You get a vote for your adventurous nature!

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  38. My husband and I were seriously laughing out loud at your description of the taste of the fish.
    I voted for you - Good Luck!

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  39. Awesome post! Viking cuisine! Very original. You captured the spirit of the challenge. You have my vote!

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  40. What unique/awesome choice! Hope to see you in round three!
    ~ Mary

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  41. Hilarious post! Loved it. And voted :)

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  42. Yow! So brave! You got my vote:)

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  43. Great post! I used to live in Norway and thankfully only had to eat lutefisk once! You made me laugh - AND you made lutefisk and fed it to your kids! You get my vote!

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  44. Oh, you made me laugh! Here's the secret about Lutefisk: it's the precursor to the MRE, the way Norwegians traditionally packed fish up in barrels so it wouldn't rot and they wouldn't starve in the winter.

    Leave it to some homesick, sadomasochistic Lutheran to delude themselves into thinking it was a delicacy from the homeland!

    Now that I've let the cat out of the bag, next time make some Gravlax or Swedish Meatballs!

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  45. Libby! Now you've made me laugh, and my husband when I read your comment to him! Can you believe my husband's grandpa actually LOVES lutefisk! I only cooked up one fillet, I'm saving up the other for him. And yes, he's a Lutheran living in North Dakota!

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  46. I grew up having lutefisk served at every holiday. Only my family always made a white cream sauce to put over. Maybe they thought they could cover the horrible taste? As a Norweigen/Icelandic girl this is one tradition I won't be carrying on! Horrible stuff, brave you for trying it out! You got my vote!

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  47. Awesome post! My only connection to the lutefisk is Rose from the Golden Girls and Bobby from King of the Hill. Apparently, lutefisk is not the best thing to bring to a church potluck. Good for you for trying it out! I laughed while voting for you. :D

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  48. unique,fun and really deserved a vote..:)))
    when you got a minute check mine too :))
    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/904

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  49. Hilarious. Wish I could vote twice for this one.

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  50. I love lutfisk. Maybe you should have married a Swede, by golly.

    Even my spell checker is Norwegian, and must be ignored when this subject is discussed. I wonder if they pay the little troll to sit inside my computer.

    Jim

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  51. Boy that made me laugh! I went to Norway for my challenge too but I steered well clear of lutefisk - having read this I'm glad I did, lol

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  52. Thanks for the vote! I returned the favor!

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  53. Well done! Ewww. Mine sounded gross, but ended up tasty. Yours was the opposite!Good luck in round 2!

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  54. Very nice! I enjoyed reading your post and voted for you.

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  55. LOL this post was too funny... I love your kids' reactions to the dish! Great job and great post!

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  56. Congrats on moving to the next challenge!

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  57. HYSTERICAL! Of course you had to advance! Can't wait to see your dinner party!
    LL

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  58. But, but, but... The devil is in the details - the condiments!

    First of all, when preparing this it is important not to bake the fish for too long. It should flake, not be complete jellyfish. Jellyfish = overcooked/ruined lutefisk.
    Just rinse it thorougly first, salt it and put it on a wire rack in a ovenproof container of some sort and cover it with tin foil. Excess moisture will dry out and you will be successful...

    However, the saving grace of lutefisk is the (usually mild) mustard sauce, pea purree and LOTS of bacon butter. Without the bacon butter it's a tough sell :-)

    (comment direct from Norway)

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  59. I missed your Voting


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