Fish on Fridays

The Fish on Fridays series is a collaboration between Gloucester photographers Kathy Chapman and Marty Luster. Look for various aspects of Gloucester’s centuries-old fishing industry highlighted here on Fridays.

While Kathy visited the Twin Cities over the holidays she stopped by Minneapolis’ Olsen Fish Company, one of the nation’s only lutefisk suppliers. They process and sell close to half a million pounds of Lutefisk each year. http://www.olsenfish.com/

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press quotes Jim Harris “…the dish is better suited to adventurous eaters. I don’t think there is a middle ground. There’s something about the weirdness of eating fish soaked in basically Drano.” Al Bezanson compared eating Lutefisk to “snacking on Ivory soap” (http://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/why-the-vikings-fled-norway/#comments).

For history and videos about lutefisk: http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_24777905/lutefisk-is-tradition-and-business-unlike-any-other.

Olsen Fish Company’s Scandinavian product line also includes herring cutlets in wine and cream sauces…mouth watering!

driedLutefisk
LutefiskSoaking

LutefiskInMinneapolis

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HerringWineSauce

Photos © Kathy Chapman 2013
http://www.kathychapman.com

6 comments

  • I’ll go with the herring in wine. Love it. In cream sauces too.

  • I remember my Grandmother Felicia making pickled herring for my grandfather , father and uncles… they all loved it… I have her recipe scheduled to be published in my next cookbook!

  • So what are those bits in the stainless with the shovel? Is that the ivory soap? I’ll eat anything, even fruitcake. But the lutefisk sounds way too sketchy.

    • Herring (from Canadian waters) is in the stainless tub waiting for the wine, mustard seed and onion brine. The potent mixture of chemicals for the soaking of the lutefisk is in the second photo. From Wikipedia: It is important not to incubate the fish too long in the lye because saponification of the fish fats may occur. The term for such spoiled fish in Finnish is saippuakala (soap fish). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutefisk

  • Kathy — thanks for this. I knew you came from the Twin Cities and hoped you might visit Olsen’s. The sample in my post came from their plant and I spent some time with Olsen’s sales manager at the Boston Seafood Show last March. He set me straight on a few aspects of the process. I was pretty amazed when he told me they sell about half a million pounds annually.

    When I was duped into ordering the meal in Norway I had no clue what was coming. It was a setup, I’m sure. Easy prey, the only American at the bar preceding the meal. I think I forced it down as a matter of honor.

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