(Paid partnership with TuttoFood)
Christmas is right around the corner and for Norwegians that means good food and drinks on the 24th of December and the following days.
What do we eat for Christmas? The food that we eat is actually quite healthy if you think of some of the ingredients and old techniques that we still use in preparing the festive meals. It consists of a lot of fish, fermented food, berries and nutritious game meat.
When it comes to the menu for Christmas Eve the healthy issue is put aside though.
Depending on where in the country you live the main dishes for the festive night is either “Ribbe” or “Pinnekjøtt”.
Ribbe is pork belly with crackling served with red (or white) cabbage, potatoes and gravy.
The traditional metode of preparing the pork is to season it some days in advance and then roast it in the oven for a couple of hours. In the resent years it’s been more popular to roast it on a low temperature in the oven for 6-10 hours until the fatty layers are rendered.
Pinnekjøtt is dry-cured (and sometimes smoked) ribs of lamb served with potatoes and mashed rutabaga. It’s really delicious. You have to soak the ribs over night in cold water before steaming it for three hours.
These are both heavy dishes.
I was brought up to start Christmas with fish and seafood. So on the 23th of December we always had Norwegian lobster or Gravlaks (cured salmon).
The salmon is cured in salt and sugar (and a dash of Aquavit and dill) for some days until firm on the outside and lovely moist and aromatic. This way of curing the fish is an old technique used in the Nordic countries for centuries.
We eat the raw fish thinly sliced with cold potatoes (or creamy potatoes in dill) and cold mustard sauce. Also smoked salmon is eaten during Christmas and usually served with scrambled eggs.
Curing, smoking and pickling are techniques that have been used in the Norwegian kitchen for many years. It was an old way of storing and keeping ingredients for a long time before the refrigerators came into the homes.
Fementation is also a tradition we use.
We eat a fermented fish called Rakfisk – a dish not for the faint of heart. The fish is literately rotten and it stinks. But the taste is so delicious! Rakfisk is trout that’s been salted and then fermented for up to a year. We eat it raw (so it’s a kind of Nordic sashimi) with boiled potatoes, raw onions, rammed (fermented sour cream), cold butter, pickled beetroots and flatbread or “lefse” (tortilla made of potato). You can roll it up like a burrito or eat it without “lefse” with fork and knife. I prefer the last.
Sild is also a big thing in Norway during Christmas. Not as big as in Sweden and Denmark, but still a part of the dishes we eat at Christmas. Sild is pickled herring served in different sauces: Curry dressing, sour cream, tomato sauce or in a spiced pickling liquid. We eat Sild on dark bread with butter and sometimes boiled eggs.
Another technique that is used in Christmas dishes is lutefisk. This dish consists of dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution for several days before being rehydrated and baked in the oven. The texture of the fish is like jelly. We eat this delicacy with bacon fat, potatoes, mustard and pea purée. Some people will add golden syrup, brown cheese (caramelised goat cheese), white sauce and more strange stuff to add taste to the bland tasting fish.
Many Norwegians will prefer to eat lean game meat from moose, reindeer of venison during Christmas. And some will eat game birds like grouse. The meat is fried or roasted and served with brussel sprouts, potatoes, a creamy sauce and lingonberries (berry high in Vitamin C and E)
Spices are used in Christmas cookies and also in our mulled wine called “Gløgg” served with or without alcohol and with raisins and almonds.
So what else do we drink for Christmas?
Beer and aquavit is a classic combination. Aquavit is a distilled potato spirit flavoured with dill seeds and caraway.
Christmas beer has been brewed in Norway for over 1,500 years. It’s a dark, rich and strong ale.
Classic desserts during Christmas is cloudberries (contains four times as much vitamin C as an orange) and cream often served in a small bowl made of “krumkake” (one of the seven traditional Christmas cookies).
This heavy dessert is slightly lighter than the other traditional dessert found on many tables during Christmas: Riskrem – cold rice porridge mixed with whipped cream, vanilla, sugar and almonds served with a berry sauce.
Grandiosa is also a dish that some people actually eat on Christmas Eve… What is Grandisosa? Well… it’s a frozen pizza. Some call it our national dish and they might be right because a total of 20 million pizzas are eaten each year and we are a nation of 5,3 million people.
Merry Christmas to you! And remember to check out TuttoFood – The food fair that will find place in Milan 17 – 20 May 2021.
Check out the different sectors like TuttoHealth, TuttoSeafood and TuttoFrozen to learn more about the food fair in Italy.
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