View Full Version : O Lutefisk

June Pelo
16-10-03, 01:49
I shared this with some friends and they wrote that they enjoyed singing it and plan to sing it again at Christmas. It's getting closer to that time.

O Lutefisk

O Lutefisk.. O Lutefisk.. How fragrant your aroma.
O Lutefisk.. O Lutefisk.. You put me in a coma.
You smell so strong.. you look like glue.
You taste yust like an overshoe.
But Lutefisk.. come Saturday
I tink I'll eat you anyvay.

O Lutefisk.. O Lutefisk.. I put you by the door vay.
I wanted you to ripen up..yust like dey do in Norvay.
A dog came by and sprinkled you.. I hit him vid an army shoe.
O Lutefisk.. now I suppose
I'll eat you as I hold my nose.

O Lutefisk.. O Lutefisk.. How vell I do remember
On Christmas eve how we'd receive.. our big treat of December.
It vasn't turkey or fried ham.. it vasn't even pickled spam.
My mudder knew dere vas no risk..
In serving buttered lutefisk.

O Lutefisk.. O Lutefisk.. now everyone discovers
Dat Lutefisk and lefse makes.. Norvegians better lovers.
Now all da vorld can have a ball.. you're better dan dat Yeritol.
O Lutefisk.. vid brennevin..
You make me feel like Errol Flynn.

O Lutefisk .. O lutefisk .. You have a special flavor.
O Lutefisk .. O lutefisk .. All good Norwegians savor.
That slimy slab we know so well .. Identified by that ghastly smell
O Lutefisk .. O lutefisk .. Our loyalty won't waver.

O Lutefisk...O lutefisk...When my poor heart stops beating
The pearly gates will open wide, I'll see the angels eating
From steaming platters of the stuff, and there will always be enough.
O piece of cod that I adore, O lutefisk forevermore!

(May be sung to the tune of "O Tannenbaum")
By "Red" Stangland

Here's an easy way to prepare Lutefisk:



In the oven.
Place the fish skin side down in a roasting pan or an ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle with salt, and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake at 300°C
for about 30-40 minutes.

In the microwave oven.
Place the fish, skin side down, in a covered dish suitable for microwave
cooking. Sprinkle with salt, and cover. For best results, cook 1 lb at a
time. Cook 1-lb fish for 6 minutes at 600 watts. Check to see whether the
fish is cooked. Thick pieces may require another 2 minutes, perhaps more.
Let the fish stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Traditionally the Swedes serve it with boiled potatoes and cream sauce. Some people serve it with black pepper, dash of allspice and dash of mustard.

Margaret Rader
16-10-03, 09:49
Your friends may plan to sing it but do they plan to eat it?

I'm finding this tradition very hard to pass on, but my brother and I do eat it every Christmas Eve, and others take ceremonial tastes.

Margaret :rolleyes:

16-10-03, 17:37
If my wife even considers having lutfisk for christmas I shall in my turn consider emigration or at least removing myself from our house until the smell settles. Can't tolerate the smell!

Btw June. Thanks for putting this under chit-chat and not in the same forum as the recipes... Lutfisk doesn't belong in the kitchen!;)

June Pelo
16-10-03, 19:07
Yes, we've eaten it all our lives and like it. I admit it doesn't smell good, but that doesn't affect the taste. Our family just never could get enough of it, so we had to cook large quantities of it. When I was growing up the Scandinavian churches all served it at church suppers around Christmas time. And some of my friends used to have Lutfisk suppers in their homes and invited all their friends over. I suppose the younger generation (anyone below age 60) never developed a liking for it. Too bad. I wish I had saved an article someone sent me from a Duluth newspaper about how many tons of lutfisk are sold around there each year. Most of my relatives in Finland and Sweden said they prepare and serve it the same way we do here. My Norwegian friends serve it with melted butter.


Gita Wiklund
16-10-03, 20:17

The few times I had lutfisk my impression has been that the fish itself doesn´t taste anything at all. But sometimes the sauce is tasty.


June Pelo
16-10-03, 20:37
Yes, I agree. The fish has no taste. It's the smell that turns people off. And the cream sauce is rather bland as it is seasoned only salt and pepper. I've heard that some people add cheese to the white sauce, but I've never tried it.

I wonder if the smell is caused by the way the fish is cured? As a child I can remember the fish was hard and dry and had to be softened by soaking in water that had to be changed every day. Now it can be purchased frozen and there's no soaking and changing of water required. My uncle worked in a fish market and brought us the big fish when they received it from the supplier. There were a lot of Scandinavians in our town and they bought all the fish as soon as it came into the market.


Gita Wiklund
16-10-03, 20:59
I wonder if the smell is caused by the way the fish is cured?

Could be + I wonder if it is so healthy for you to eat this fish...
It´s probably so that this fish is surrounded with nostalgic memories, people keep eating it only because it is an old tradition.
The same as with surströmming, that really smells awful. That fish I would never even get close to.

June Pelo
16-10-03, 21:13
Whether it's healthy or not, people have been eating it for hundreds of years and I've never heard of anyone dying from it!

I knew a Swedish seaman who once mentioned surströmming and how terrible it smelled - but he said it tasted so good


Gita Wiklund
16-10-03, 23:20
but he said it tasted so good

Yes, they all say! ;) ...but I don´t believe them. Actually, my husband has tasted it and he say it mostly tastes very salty. He says that he prefers to eat chips when he feels for something salty. I know others who claims they love it, but it seems to me it´s more like they love the coming together around something most people find disgusting; like it sort of creates a special bond between them. In Sweden in August most people gather around a table loaded with crayfish. But some make it a surströmming-party instead.


17-10-03, 00:00
My Grandmother Jackson (Hedda Sophia Almgren from Lohja) cooked in a boarding house in Mullan, Idaho. When I was a child in the 40's I watched her prepare the Lutefisk for holiday meals. This is a clip from my personal Memory Cookbook:

Lutefisk as prepared by Gram Jackson

Dry codfish

To prepare the lutefisk required at least two weeks’ time. She placed the fish in clean cold water and let it remain for one week, changing the water every day. (There was a wooden trough behind the boarding house for this purpose. ) Then, for every four or five pounds of fish, she used about one teaspoon of lye with enough fresh water to cover the fish. The fish stood in this solution for three or four days. The solution was then poured off and clean water was poured over the fish. She changed this water daily for another three or four days. The fish was then ready to be prepared for the table. She placed the fish in boiling salted water for a very short time. It was served with melted butter.

17-10-03, 10:46
Hi you all
I'm with Hasse on lute fish. I can't be healthy. I remember the fish store in my childhood. The dryed cod or coley was soaking in lye to soften it up. (lute fish translates as lye fish and it's a lie that it tastes good). The smell was awful.
Then my mother bought one of these fishes and soaked it in water to take out the poisonous lye. After that it was cooked like June describes.
My father has told me how his mother bought the dry fish, hard as a birch log and made lye from ashes.
Now it is bough ready soaked in a plastic wrapping. You punch a few holes in the wrapping and cook in water with wrapping and all.

The Norwegians dried the fish, because it was the only way to preserve it for export. It was exported in vas quantities especially to catholic countries whrer it was used as food during the fast, for example before easter.

I have never understood why we lutherans eat cahtolic mortifying food as a christmas delight.

early season's greetings to you all

June Pelo
18-10-03, 01:41
I just wrote to one of our members in Canada about all these lutfisk stories and he said this:

I love Lutefisk and have it on my birthday in January. We changed to my birthday since my parents died. Our kids like it too, but
not my wife. The smell permeating the house is a perfume of absolute glory. We pay about $50.00 for 2 kilos but even at $100.00 it is worth it. my dad used to Lute it himself every Christmas, and Swede-Finns were invited for the dinner and skinka med risgrynsgröt med en smurru av russin i det med smör på toppen. Oi joi vad det smakka bra!!!!!


Gita Wiklund
18-10-03, 13:33
Risgrynsgröt är gott!
What about Kålrotslåda? It´s most important for me on the X-mas table.

18-10-03, 14:34

We never had "lådor" back home, but nowadays lådor belong to our xmas tradition. My wife took this tradition with her and I'm happy she did.

Potatislåda (sweetened potato?), morotslåda (carrots), kålrotslåda (rutabaga?) and ham. Rosolli and "sill" (baltic heering) and "juldricka" to drink with it. The juldricka we now make is a strange recipe, we mix low-% beer ("pilsner") with coke (50-50). Sounds silly but it is good. Not really a "Alsterwasser" like the Germans do it but something similar.

Risgrynsgröt belongs to the tradition but isn't my favourite.

Gita Wiklund
18-10-03, 15:29
The juldricka we now make is a strange recipe, we mix low-% beer ("pilsner") with coke (50-50)

It sounds like a kind of "mumma", it´s very common to make mumma for xmas in Sweden. There are lots of diferent recipes with more or less alcohol included.

I also have morotslåda (love it!) but haven´t yet made potatislåda. Sill is also on my table every year. Nowadays I skip the ham, I stopped eating meat about 8 years ago, so instead I make soya- "meat"balls and other dishes made from soya or quorn, fish and vegetables.

19-10-03, 15:25
As we were discussing lutfisk...

In Norway they once treated me with what they called "rakfisk" for xmas - the locals thought it was delicate. If possible this dish imho was even worse than lutfisk. Not even the "snaps" after every second bite could cure it...

Wonder why traditional fish dishes mostly taste or smell rotten? Were there no spices to hide the smell as spices originally did for the rutten meat taste?

19-10-03, 17:59
Rakfish or rakörret is rotten. I have heard that it's at trout that they bury in sand for a length of time until it is utterly rotten.

Rakörret is in fact related to surströmming and Chinese rotten eggs.

I think that in the days before freezers and canned food they had to preserve food by different kinds of fermentation. Some of these food have stayed on like surströmming, rakörret, sour milk, and so on.

I don't think people liked these foods, but they had no choice, so they got used to them.


19-10-03, 21:11
In re sour milk: I got a start of viili, similar to yogurt, while I was shopping at Finnware, the delightful Scandinavian gift shop in Astoria, OR, the other day. My viili is progressing well. I see through a Google search that starter is available for both viili and fil mjölk, a similar Swedish cultured milk, at: http://www.gemcultures.com/dairy_cultures.htm

Viili is a "Comfort Food" for some, an acquired taste for others. For yet another group, it is an abomination.

20-10-03, 13:24
"Viili" or "fil" as it is called in Swedish tastes better if you put sugar and cinnamon or ginger on it.

June Pelo
20-10-03, 19:01
When we were growing up there was always filbunke in the cupboard. I liked it with sugar and cinnnamon and ate it with my cereal in the morning. My siblings liked to eat it plain. We didn't make it in a special bowl, but I have seen the picture of the bowl Lars Granholm posted on the Net. Here it is. My father's cousin once smuggled a starter from Finland - she put it in a small bottle in her purse and the Customs officer didn't see it.


Gunnar Damström
21-10-03, 02:03
Can't take all this wining any longer. Here is a recipe for falsk lutfisk. If this smell does not appeal to you, it is because you did not buy fresh fish!

Falsk Lutfisk

You need:
1 kg (about two pounds) of absolutely fresh cod fillets
In a large pot, bring three liters of water to a boil, dissolve 1/2 cup of salt. Place the cod fillets in the cheesecloth, suspend the package in the boiling water for two minutes, being careful not to scold yourself. Let the package drain for a couple of minutes, then place the filets on a serving dish. Serve hot with miniature peas, boiled Yukon gold potatoes and basic white sauce (Bechamel):

Sauce Bechamel:
Preheat a pint of whole milk. Heat two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. When the foaming subsides but before the butter browns, add two tablespoons of flour while stirring. Stirring constantly, add the hot milk gradually, allowing the sauce to thicken between the additions. Place on a low heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Season with a pinch of fresh nutmeg, white pepper and salt.


June Pelo
21-10-03, 17:17
Where I now live I haven't found any lutfisk, so have used fresh cod instead.