View Full Version : Lutfisk

June Pelo
17-07-04, 20:21
I know it's early to be thinking about lutfisk, but I have a request from someone asking how to prepare the fish from scratch - what kind of wood to use, and all the steps involved. He doesn't want to buy it frozen from the market. When I was young my father always bought the dried fish from the fish market, but I have no knowledge how the fish was cured. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.



Karen Norwillo
17-07-04, 20:41
Hi June, This is what my Finnish Cookbook says:

Soak a large codfish in water for 1 week, changing the water every day.Then for 3 to 5 days(or until the fish is shiny) soak in a strong solution of raw soda and ashes mixed with water. It doesn't say what kind of ashes. Then soak the fish again in fresh water 7 more days, changing the water daily. In all, it takes about 3 weeks to prepare the raw fish.
Sounds like an awful lot of work to me. This is from a cookbook written by Beatrice A. Ojakangas

June Pelo
17-07-04, 21:00
Thanks, Karen. Yes, it sounds like a lot of work but I guess some people like to do things the hard way :p I'll pass the recipe on.


June Pelo
18-07-04, 19:15
I sent the recipe on to my friend and now he wants to know what raw soda is? It's not a term we use in the U.S. And also what ratio of soda to water is used to soak the fish? If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.



19-07-04, 13:08
This is the recipe from my cookbook ( Keittotaito ( Skill of Cooking), 32nd ed, 1st ed 1932 )

You will need:
birch ash

Club and skin the fish. Use a large wooden bucket and put the fish in, skinside up. Pour in cold water until the fish is covered. Leave for a week but change water every day.
Prepare lime: Take 3 liters of water, 1 liter of birch ashes and 0,5 dl of Ca-hydroxide Ca(OH)2. Put ashes and Ca-hydroxide in a bag made of cloth and cook it in a large kettle. Leave to cool. When cold, pour over the fish. Put a weight over the fish and leave for 5 to 6 days until the fish is soft. Put the fish in clear, clean water for a week, change water daily. The best place to store the fish is in snow.

My comment: if you decide to do this, remember that lime is very very irritating, even poisonous, and should under no circumstances be taken by mouth or left to the reach of children! It is best to cover your clothes properly and use gloves when handling the solution.
Besides, the fish tastes absolutely awful ( personal opinion only)


19-07-04, 19:22
I'm with you Merja. And considering the cost of fresh cod in the Pacific NW, I would rather eat a lightly grilled fillet with fresh dill and spices!

June Pelo
19-07-04, 21:09
Thanks, Merja. I sent it on to him - maybe he'll get too discouraged to try it, although he said he can get birch ash as he has lots of birch trees. I think he's reliving his childhood and all the food his mother cooked. His mother called him a köttvarg!


21-07-04, 19:43
Originally posted by Karen Norwillo
Hi June, This is what my Finnish Cookbook says:

It doesn't say what kind of ashes...

I think it's birch ashes. The fish was dried and hard as a log. You made lye from the ashes to soften the fish, and then you had to soak the lye out of it.

But nobody, I repeat, nobody, make lutfish this way in Finland any more. In my youth in the 1950ies my mother bought the fish ready and soaked the lye out of it. Nowadays everybody buys it completley ready in a plastic wrapping. You punch a few holes in the wrapping and put the fish in salted and boiling water for half an hour end it is ready to eat.

I won't touch the stuff. I take ham any time.