Norwegian Food – a guide to pinnekjøtt, raspeballer and Tacofriday!

Enter the table of Norwegian cuisine filled with traditional, weird and not-so-traditional dishes.

The Norwegian cuisine is not very famous worldwide, but there are some dishes worth mentioning. While travelling in Norway, you will also encounter some specific food items that you may not have seen or tasted before. Also, Norwegians are not only into domestic food as they fully embrace pizza, spring rolls and taco. Join this Norwegian food article to learn more about this Nordic country’s food culture!

Traditional Norwegian food – bread, potatoes, fish, sheep and pork

There is no reason to deny it. Norwegian food is simple and regional. The coastal areas often have specific fish dishes while the inland is focused on meat and maybe also freshwater fishing. In the North it is more common with reindeer and whale meat and every part of Norway has their own Christmas food. But some things will always be at the table.

Bread – the standard, knekkebrød, lompe and lefse – what?

Norway is a bread culture. Norwegians eat bread to breakfast and lunch and evenings. Norwegian bread comes in many “types”, here is two common examples.Bread as the normal shaped one you slice and put toppings on or crispbreadKnekkebrød. Knekkebrød is a crispy type of bread that cannot get moldy or “expired”. It is made to last, and is very practical for long trekking, travelling by sea or by foot. They weigh little and with topping they taste great.
When it comes to the “normal” bread (both types are perfectly normal in Norway), it is dark bread. Typical made with more full-grains and hereby heavier and you stay full longer. The dark bread can be rye, oats or simply wholemeal flour.

There is also a third and forth option of bread in Norway, the flatbread and lompe. The flatbread is similar to the knekkebrød and often served to dinner. The lompe looks like a pancake, only not sweet, made out of potatoes and often served around a hotdog. Also, lompe can be a type of lefse – which can either be a dessert with sugar, butter, jam or cream OR a type of bread you use during dinner. Example for fish. See under “weird dishes” further down.

Pålegg – the stuff you use to spice up your Norwegian bread

The toppings on bread and crispbread is called “pålegg” in Norwegian. It can be anything from ham, cheese, spread and jam. Pickled fish is also popular. A classic fish topping from Norway is mackerel in tomato sauce. One slice of bread with this topping covers your total need of omega 3 for a whole day – beat that!

Next to this, porridge is a normal and historical dish in Norway. Porridge can be made from oatmeals, rice and other grains. It has been the poor peoples food for centuries, but now it has come back as a healthy option due to the different grains.

Fish, potatoes and pork or sheep – the triangle of Norway! Or..

As mentioned, it all depends on where you are. But fish, potatoes and pork or sheep is very common in Norway. Fried or steamed fish. Boiled potatoes. Pork chops, pork soup, sausages or steak is easily served. A bit more uncommon to the rest of the Scandinavian countries, sheep is popular in Norway. And by this it is not only the lamb meat, but also the adult. Norways national dish is “Fårikål” which literary translated means “Sheep in cabbage”. It is .. sheep boiled with cabbage. Served with potatoes. Try it in the autumn. Actually, this dish is normally with lamb meat – it is confusing, sorry. An actual dish that is with sheep meat is one of Norways Christmas dishes, pinnekjøtt. Which is a sort of steamed salted sheep ribs. Served with potatoes.

International food is also part of Norwegian food culture

But Norwegians do not only eat the traditional Norwegian food. Actually, if you go to any city there will be plenty of options when you dine out. Italian, French, Vietnamese and North-American restaurant is very popular. At home people are used to cook burgers, burritos, pizzas and Indian lentil soup.

Despite this, there are some funny dishes that are from Norway.

Weird dishes from Norway – a list of strange food of Norway

  • Smalahove: boiled and fried sheep head served with everything. You are supposed to eat everything except for the skull. Served on the west coast of Norway.
  • Raspeball/Komle/Klubb/Potetball: a kind of huge dumpling made out of potatoes and wholegrain flour. A favorite on the west-coast of Norway, but there is many varieties and servings. Hereby the different names. Extremely regional. Neighbor villages can have different recipes. They don’t even agree on the name of this dish!
  • Rakfisk: trout that has been dig down under the earth and almost rotten. A type of strongly fermented fish. It is a fine line between rotten fish and rakfisk. It comes in different “strong levels”. Normally served in a lefse with sour cream (rømme), raw onion, strong mustard and… potatoes. This should not be eaten by pregnant women. Common on the inland of Norway.
  • Lutfisk: cod that has been treated with lye. The fish seems all transparent and jelly-like. Often served around Christmas and is viewed as fancy food. Served with mashed peas, bacon, carrots and boiled potatoes. Common in many parts of Norway.
  • Mølje: can be either fish or meat. The main part of mølje is that almost all the leftovers from the animal or fish is being boiled in a big pot and eaten with flat bread.
  • Tørrfisk: air-dried fish. Usually cod. It is an old technique for conserving food, dried fish does not go bad. It can be stored for months and is extremely healthy. 100g of dried fish contains 90g proteins! It has a strong fishy taste. Used as snack and as ingredient for dinner (then soaked in water for about 12-24 hours before served). Common on the whole coastline of Norway, but the best ones might be up in the Northern part.

Phew! That is one kind of a list. But Norwegians have something even weirder. One of the most popular dishes in Norway is… Taco! Of course, given the distance of Mexico and Latin-America to Norway, some parts have been lost in translation or mildly adapted. Norwegian tacos usually consists of grounded beef with “taco spices”, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, can corn, onions, cheese and some salsa from a jar. It might be far away from the real deal, but it does not taste bad. And no joke – Taco Friday is a huge thing in Norway as seen in this video Norwegian Taco-Friday!

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