Sunday, January 16, 2011

#540 Norway

The nice s/s is the 2010 Norwegian The North by the Sea - Life at the Coast issue whose subject is the processing of stockfish.

This preservation method, which has been making a distinctive contribution to Norway’s food culture for generations, is one of the oldest ways of preserving food that we know of. The Vikings took stockfish with them on their raids and used it to barter for commodities they took home with them.

This ancient way of preserving fish requires only a low temperature and cool winds, but not so cold that the fish freezes. It is this balance that makes the climate in North Norway ideal for stockfish production. Although about 70per cent of the water content is lost during drying, the nutritional value is retained. Stockfish is thus a healthy food, rich in proteins, iron, calcium and vitamin B.

Before they are hung up to dry, the fish are split along the spine and tied together two and two at the tail. After some months on the drying rack, they are taken indoors to mature in an airy environment for another 2-3 months. All that is left to do then is to press them together and pack them for sale and export. The bulk is exported to Italy and Africa. In Norway, stockfish is mostly used to make lutefisk (cod cured in lye), while Italians use it in a variety of dishes.

As far back as sources go stockfish has been part of Norway’s trading history. Stockfish was a dominant export product for many hundreds of years and vital to settlement and development in the north. Today Norway tops the international stockfish market and stockfish from Lofoten is the most sought after. The climate in Lofoten is perfect for stockfish production and Tørrfisk fra Lofoten (Stockfish from Lofoten) is a protected designation of origin, placing it in the same class as Champagne and Parma Ham.

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