Norway is well known for its beautiful fjords, incredible landscapes and rich culture. When it comes to cuisine, people may know a lot less about the country than they first thought. With its traditional, warming dishes, Norwegian cuisine is really a display of the fresh ingredients and rich heritage the country has. From Fårikål, the national dish, to svele, in this article we look at the foods you need to try on a Norwegian Fjords cruise.

 

Tørrfisk

Norwegian Torrfisk

Tørrfisk, known in English as stockfish, is an unsalted fish that is dried out in the cold Norwegian air. This method is one of the world’s oldest preservation methods and gives the fish, usually cod, a long storage life and unique texture. Stockfish is so popular, not just in Norway but around the world, that it is the country’s longest sustained export commodity. 

The unique drying process is something that is potentially more interesting than the final product itself. The fish are hung from large, wooden structures and usually right on the shoreline, so keep an eye open when traversing the fjords and you may be lucky enough to see some drying! 

 

Rakfisk

If dried fish isn’t your style, but you still want to sample some of Norway’s incredible seafood then Rakfisk, a fermented trout, is a great place to start. The creamy flavours and great accoutrements make it a lovely light dish, perfect for lunch. Depending on the region you are in, the flavours can vary and so can the preparation, but wherever you are the fish will always be fresh and delicious. 

We spoke to Therese, food blogger at My Nordic Kitchen. She recommended Rakfisk: “Norwegian cuisine is based on our many seasons and regionswhere simplicity is in focus. Only a few ingredients should be presented and perfected. The food varies depending on the area you're in. If you're close to the sea, fish would be the natural choice. Whereas wild meat would be common further inland.

“Even so, I would recommend a dish called Rakfisk which can be bought in Norway during autumn and winter.Fish is a big deal in Norway and this is absolutely delicious and could not be more Norwegian. ‘Rak’ is the name of the way the fish is preserved and ‘fisk’ means fish. Rakfiskis fermented trout and it has the most creamy and smooth texture.Fermenting was a way to store food back in the days, whereas now it's merely for pleasure. If you don't mind a strongly flavoured fish, this dish is very much worth a shot. We serve it with thin potato cakes, red onion, sour cream and potato on the side. The flavour ranges from mild to strong. Serve with a glass of aquavit and you have yourself a traditional Norwegian meal.”

Therese also had some other recommendations: “If you want something completely different I can highly recommend a Norwegian waffle with strawberry jam and brown cheese (or strawberry ham and sour cream - both equally delicious). Bread is also a big deal here - so go to the local bakery and ask for sourdough bread or even rye bread for your breakfast and/or lunch. Your taste buds will love you for it!"

 

Fårikål

Fårikål is the national dish of Norway, so of course, is a must try when anyone visits. The dish, a simple mutton stew made with cabbage and black peppercorns is warming and traditional. Originating in Denmark, where it was cooked with goose or duck, Fårikål was transformed by Norway in the 1840s. The dish is so popular there is even Fårikål Feast Day. 

We spoke to Helle, Norwegian food blogger at Helles Kitchen, who recommended Fårikål, she said: “If you come to Norway during the fall you should taste the national dish called Fårikål. The dish is made of lamb (with bones), cabbage and black pepper and it's cooked for several hours. You serve it with boiled potatoes. It sure smells funky in every Norwegian home on National Fårikål Day, always ison the last Thursday in September each year.”

Helle also recommended a dish that is perfect to try in late winter and early spring: “If you are visiting Norway between January and April you have to try the Skrei.This is the migratory cod. Its flesh is firmer than most cod, with larger flakes. It's servedwith the roe, boiled liver, boiled potatoes, butter sauce and sometimes bacon.” 

She gave one final piece of advice: “When you taste Norwegian dishes always remember to drink local beer and aquavit!” 

 

Potato Dumplings

Norwegian Potato Dumplings

If you are looking for something traditional, then we recommended searching out potato dumplings. This dish is a homemade favourite in Norway and is common in many households. Great for warming you after time exploring the cold fjords. 

We spoke to Anders Husa, a food writer and photographer at andershusa. Anders visits the best restaurants in Scandinavia and around the world. We asked him for his professional recommendation: “When visiting Norway, you have to try our traditional dish of potato dumplings. They go by different names, depending on the region, but the most common ones are ‘komle,’ ‘klubb,’ and ‘raspeball.’ 

“Made from a mix of raw and cooked potatoes that are grated and mixed with salt and flour before they are cooked in a lamb broth, the potato dumplings are typically served with salty lamb, sausages, rutabaga mash, and bacon fat. In some regions, they also make it with a piece of bacon inside. My grandmother always used to make them for me when I was a kid, and back then, I could eat ten of them. Today, as an adult, I can hardly finish two of these rich and heavy dumplings.” 

 

Fiskesuppe

Soup is the perfect dish to warm you all the way through. And however simple, it always tastes exceptional. Norway brings its fantastic fresh seafood and soup together to make amazing fiskesuppe.

We spoke to Nevada, cookbook author and blogger at North Wild Kitchen to who recommended fiskesuppe: “It’s difficult to recommend only one dish to try while in Norway because the dishes can vary across the regions and some you look forward to when in season. Yet, as visiting the fjords brings you close to the waters and the steep mountains, I would recommend starting your culinary journey with a bowl of warm fiskesuppe, ‘fish soup’. 

“Sometimes rich and thick, while other times it has a velvety broth. Bergen is well-known for its variation - thick with fish and shrimp, speckled with carrot, celery, and onion and seasoned with a little vinegar and sugar. It’s a great meal to enjoy when the rain never seems to cease or as you watch the waves dance under the brilliance of the sun. No matter the weather or location, fiskesuppe is one meal that is sure to draw you toward the water’s edge.” If you can’t wait to try fiskesuppe then you can make it yourself as it’s a recipe in Nevada’s cookbook, North Wild Kitchen: Cooking from the Heart of Norway

 

Svele

If you have a sweet tooth, then keep an eye out for svele. This Norwegian pancake is a great quick snack and something a lot of Norwegians swear by for a sugar boost.

We spoke to the team at Life in Norway, they recommended svele: “It's a Norwegian take on an American pancake, it's got the soft, fluffy nature of those, but it's eaten more like a cake, as in afternoon with a coffee. They are hugely popular in the fjord region of Norway, specifically in the northern part in and around Ålesund, and actually quite hard to find them anywhere else. Typically, they are eaten as a snack and usually served sprinkled with sugar or with a slice of brown cheese and folded into a crescent shape. Jam and sour cream are also possible accompaniments.” 

They then told us where you can find these delicious treats: “The most common place to find them may surprise you. They are hugely popular in the cafes of the ‘road replacement’ car ferry services operated by Fjord 1 that cross many of the region's fjords.”