Traditional Norwegian Christmas-time food

It's difficult to translate all the names - you'll just have to read the receipes....



(Pork rib)



(Acid cod)


(Sweet "Sauerkraut")


(Mustard sauce)


(Cakes of minced fat and lean pork)


(Christmas Cod)


(3 sorts of Herring)


(home  oxe tounge)


(rack of smoked sheep ribs)



(brine-cured salmon)


(half-fermented trout)









LUTEFISK     (dried codfish prepared in a potash lye)

I don't suppose it's possible to get hold of this specially prepared fish outside Norway.  And it's very sesonal. You usually just get it in November and December.

But anyway, if you get hold of Lutefisk ;  Calculate 3/4 kilo lutefisk per person. I prefere to boil the fish in the owen. In a casserole it really has the tendency to vanish in the water ! Cut the fish into quite large pieces. Place them with skin-side down in an owen pan.  Pour 1 spoonful of salt per each kilo of fish. Cover the pan with aluminium folio and leave the pan below in pre-heated owen  ( approx. 425° F) for 35-40 minutes. 

Accessories varies due to local traditions. Personally, I prefere boiled potatoes, but in some districts the fish is served with an old sort of bread, or the "Lefse". In most cases pea-stew is a "must". One may choose between melted butter, pork rib-fat, mustardsauce, white sauce and mustard, and /  or small, fried pieces of bacon.   

Experience tells that one shall NOT fuzz with the different traditions when serving Lutefisk. It's better to serve all different accessories so that each person may pick his choice according to his own traditions. 

JULETORSK     (Christmas Cod)

Mainly on the west coast of Norway, they serve cod on Christmas Eve. To serve 4 persons you'll need  approx. ca. 1,2 kilo fresh cod, 1,05 cup cream, 10,5 ounces butter, carrots, ½ yellow onion,  peppercorn, sugar and salt (+ 1 0,85 pound of bacon)
Preboil a lot of water, add 1/2 tbl.sp. salt for each cup of water. Cut the cod in thick slices, and let them rest in the hot water for approx. 15 minutes. Beware that the water is to be hot, but NOT boiling while the fish is in the casserole.

Sauce:  Boil cream until half volume. Bring the kettle off the heath and whipe in the butter.   At this point the sauce must NOT boil !  Sprinkle chopped parcley into the sauce.

Vegetables ; Cut carrots into nice slices (use a groove-bladed knife)  Steam carrots and fine cut onion in buttered water added 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. A lot of people serve bits of fried bacon along, others prefere melted butter with parsley.

Beaverage ; Some drink beer along with the cod, but mostly a tasty red wine is preferred. This was also an old tradition for "Gentlemen's dinner" in wintertime.

GRAVLAKS          (Salmon rested in brine for 4 days)

Let the fish stay at least 1 day (and night) in the freezer. Then all eventual bacterias are killed. Use a salmon 8,5 pounds. It's also possible to use trout. Cut off the tail-piece - it may be dryed. Clean and wash the fish thoroughly.  Make fillets, but keep the skin on.  Cut off fins and sidebones and pick out large bones inside. Dry the filets carefully. 

Per. pound of fish you'll need ; 4 tbl.sp.. salt, 2,5tbl.sp. sugar, 1 ts. white pepper og 1 - 2 bundles of dill. Mix it well and rub it on to the flesh-side of the filets.  Put one filet with skin side down on a plate (made of steel, glass, plastic or enamel). Pour most of the cutted dill on top. Then put the second filet on top of the first with meat-side down. The filets are to be placed opposite each other ; one "head" on top of the tail etc. Pour a bit dill on top and cover with aluminum folie.

Let the fish rest in a cold place for one day and night. Put it in the refrigerator for at least 2 days. Turn it around at least twice each day. Pour the brine from the fish over it now and then.

Gravelaks is best when newly made. But you may as well keep it in the freezer when it's finished., 

Serving "gravelaks"  gives a lot of opportunities ; for dinner with dill-stewed potatoes and hot mustard sauce, or as a starter on toast, or as an evening dish with cold mustard sauce and warm baguettes.


SENNEPSAUS              (Mustard sauce)
1/2 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. Coleman's Dry Mustard
1 egg yolk
1/2 pint cream
1/2 cup vinegar


This sauce is easiest to prepare in a double boiler to help prevent scorching.

Stir together flour, sugar and mustard. Add egg yolk and beat. Beat in cream.


In a saucepan, heat vinegar until steaming, but do not boil.

Combine all ingredients together in the pan but do not allow to boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes over lowest heat or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

The sauce is the correct item to go with the "Gravelaks". You may serve it  hot or cold, due to your like.

But this sauce is also good over ham in sandwiches, with liverwurst or basted on chicken during cooking. Also good with boiled dinners.


3 SORTER SILD    (3 types of herring)

Pieces of Herring is a fresh supplement to all the "heavy" Christmas food. In addition, a small, decorated jar is a creative and different Christmas gift. 



1 pt. herring in wine sauce
1/2 pt. sour cream
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. celery seed
1 bunch green onions, sliced
3 to 4 tbsp. chopped green pepper


Drain herring, cut into bite size pieces. Combine all ingredients, add herring, refrigerate overnight.



2 herrings
1/2 c. vinegar
1 c. water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. pickling salt
1 sm. onion
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. oil

Clean herrings and chop off heads and tails. Soak in cold water changing water 3 to 4 times for several hours or overnight. Combine ingredients for brine and bring to a boil. Cool. Drain herrings and cover with sliced onions. Cover with cold brine. Store in closed container in refrigerator. Ready for eating in 48 hours.   

2 pickled herrings
6 boiled potatoes, peeled and diced
3 small gherkins, chopped
2 small pickled cucumbers, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 green cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3 beetroot, cooked, peeled and chopped 1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely snipped chives
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
salt and pepper
French Dressing
crisp lettuce leaves for serving

Rinse herrings in cold water. Drain and dry with paper towels and cut into small squares.
In a large bowl combine prepared ingredients adding 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise and

enough French dressing to moisten. Chill well.
Pile salad on a bed of crisp lettuce leaves and garnish with remaining mayonnaise and additional snipped chives, if desired.


RAKFISK   (half-fermented trout)

This is so special for Norway, and so difficult to make without any risk of poisoning, that I don't even try to translate the receipe. I really love the "Rakfisk", but would never try to make it myself. But if you ever come to Norway in December - you should at least taste it. Even if you would be scared by the smell !!! - the taste is delicious !


A lot of traditions are attached to the "Rakfisk"-parties in December. The same party of people meet every year for this happening. Along with beer and the very strong ! Norwegian distilled spirits, called "Akevitt", this is defenitely the "wild"  start of Christmas time celebrations .................

Both Trour and Arctic Char are suitable for "rakfisk".  The Char is usually smaller, somewhat cheaper, and milder in taste. The fisk SHALL taste, but it's a myth that it have to smell rotten.  

Rakfisk may be served with different attachment - most people have their special favourites. So when there is a party it's a good idea to have a little bit of different things; small, new-boiled potatoes, slices of red onion, thin wafer crispbread, Norwegian "lefse" (type of griddled cake - made from potatoes and grain), sour cream, bits of brawn beetroot and gherkin - and of course real Norwegian dairy butter. Beer and the strong Norwegian "Akevitt" - or milk - is "approved" beverage.  



   JULERIBBE     (Christmas Pork Rib)

Even if traditions varies a lot from region to region, investigations tell that the pork rib is Christmas dinner no. 1 in Norway.

  I always make a lot more than we are eating on Christmas Eve. It's quite as tasty when served cold for lunch on Christmas Day - along with a lot of other items. (That lunch goes on for hours and hours , and people go to and from).

One of the very important issues concerning the Christmas Eve pork rib is to get the bacon rind as crisp as possible.             A sucsessful crisp will set the amount of successfulness of the evening, and will be remembered for years ahead!

A lot of people just have the pork rib, served with potatoes, the Norwegian "surkål" (sweet Sauerkraut), and the fat from the fried rib. Others serve "medisterkaker" and huge, white Christmas sausages (fried in the owen with the pork rib for last 10 min. before dinner is ready)

At 5 pm. all the churchbells in Norway is ringing and telling that it's Christmas time. And then it's Christmas dinner!!!


MEDISTERKAKER (Cakes of minced fat and lean pork)

As the name says these meatballs are made from a mixture of lean pork and minced pork fat. Even if you nowdays can buy them pre-made at the foodstore - for Christmas they should be homemade. How to mix the paste and which spises to put in is a housewife's secret, adapted from earlier generations in the family.

These "meatballs" are usually made earlier and put in the deep freezer, and then heated in the owen for some minutes while the pork rib is "resting" before served.  



It's really easy to make, but usually one buy this form of "cabbage stue" pre-made. BUT - for Christmas Eve it's a "must" that it's made at home. The smell is described as "the smell of Christmas time! 

A cabbage is cut into thin slices (someone also want a couple of appleslices in). What everybody in Norway knows is that this may NOT been made in an iron pot. The pot is heated and the cabbage is put in - with caraway and a little dash of siftet white flour between the beddings. Then a litte bit of water should be poured in (so the cabbage is not attached to the bottom of the pot and burned). It should be as little water as possible, but one have to check often that it's still some.

The cabbage then should be lightly boiled for approx. 1 ½ hour until it's softened. Then let it turn cold. So comes the real clue; to get the right mixture of vinegar and sugar. I use 1 ½ ts. 7% vinegar and 1 ½ ts. sugar. This should be poured into the pot and thoroughly stirred. The "surkål" should now have a nice and mild taste of sweet and sour.  

When I was younger this was really my nightmare of Christmas cooking. I tasted and added and tasted and addes again - and always thought it was either to sour or to sweet. But I have learned - just to pour in a little bit of fluid at the time.


PINNEKJØTT    (rack of smoked sheep ribs)

 This is so special Christmas food from the fjords on the west coast of Norway that it's almost impossible to give a discription. It tastes very distinct and strange, and you either love it or hate it. The meat is sometimes smoked, sometimes a bit dried and is cooked in a pot with water and small wooden sticks in the bottom, so that the meat don't touch the water. The meat is simmered for 2-3 hours and served with boiled potaoes, mashed swedes (turnip) and the juice from the bottom of the pot.

(The really genuine "west-landers" even find frying the sheep head on a bonfire outdoors, and then eat from inside while smelling the burnt wool)


KOKT OKSETUNGE  (Home cooked oxe tongue)

Serves 10

1 ox tongue (about 3 1/2 lb [1.5kg] in weight), salt or pickled
1 onion, peeled and cut in a fex pieces

2 bayleaves
1 large sprig of parsley

2 carrots cut in 3-4 pieces


Soak the tongue in water for 24 hours, changing the water several times.
Drain off the water and place in a saucepan with fresh cold water to cover.
Add the onion, bayleaves and parsley and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid or foil and simmer gently for 3 1/4 - 3 3/4 hours, topping up with boiling water when necessary to keep the tongue covered.

To test if the tongue is cooked, pierce the tip with a fine skewer, it will feel tender if it is cooked.
Drain and plunge immediately into a bowl of cold water. Use a small and sharp knife to remove the outer skin, bones and gristle. (Watch your fingers - but the hotter the tongue is, the easier the outer skin gets off.

Allow to become quite cold then chill in the refrigerator overnight. 


Cut thin slices slantingly, starting on the small end. 

The oxetongue is both very tasty - and also some of the lean meat there is. It may be served hot for dinner. It tastes nice with asparagus, sprouts or other vegetables. Cream-gratined potatoes suites fine with the tongue, either he tongue is served hot or cold.  

Served cold it's also tasty along with potato- or beetrootsalad. Hot asparagus is often served along with cold oxe tongue.


                         KALKUN     (Turkey)

As turkey dinner has been very popular both in England and the US, for a long time, I wouldn't dream of trying to tell how to make it.

There is not a very long tradition in Norway for having a turkey dinner. But for the last 25 years it's been growing more and more popular. Specially when two young people are going to make Christmas dinner together, in their new home - and either of them could ever imagine to have the partner's traditional Norwegian christmas dinner on Christmas Eve ; the turkey has become a very popular compromise.

And then, a new tradition is created in their home ..................


MULTER    (Cloudberries)


For a lot of people in Norway it's of utmost importance to have an autumn mountain week-end. The reason is obvious - 

to find enough Cloudberries to secure the Christmas dinner desert! 

It's quite a hunt, because these berries are rare and of extremely high value.  Most people have knowledge of one or two secret place to find them, and you never  tell anyone where you picked them. Even not your best friend.


BUT - you are not allowed to pick them until they are entirely mature. Some people pick them when the berries are still dark red and hard (they shal be yellow/orange and soft). 

So the Norwegian Parliament has passed a law which forbids picking of unripe Cloudberries!  Believe it or not - IT'S TRUE!


Most people mix the berries with whipped cream (sometimes, specially in hotels, you'll have a lot of whipped cream - and have to search for the berries). So I prefer to serve the berries and the cream seperately, so that everyone can mix the "Cloudberrycream" themselves.


VARME MULTER I WHISKY    (Cloudberries heathed in Whisky)

To do a very special gourmet dessert you may serve Vanilla Icecream followed by Cloudberries heathed in Whisky.

It's not a desert to serve to a lot of people, because everything must happen in a hurry. But it's really gordious and will surely impress everybody!


You need half a kilo of Cloudberries, inkluded the juice. Put them in a pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar (not icing-suger) and add 1 tablespoon of Whisky. Stir carefully and heath slowly. Boil for 2 min. 

While the Cloudberries boil you'll have to put the icecream on the dessert-plates. Use a tablespoon to place the heathed berries on top of the ocecream. Then serve immediately - better get someone to help you! The icecream melts very quickly! 




One have always heard Christmas pudding spoken of. I suppose it's just as strange to us, 

as all the food on this site is to you. But I'm curious and as my son is in England I found 

that it was the right time to explore this very English phenomenon.

(I have also learned to make scones!)

So, last Christmas I set out to try. I was very sceptical to all those ingredients - 

but a miracle happened. I did it - and it both looked like a Christmas pudding and 

tasted very nice. So, I'll repeate the sucsess this Christmas! (starting in November)


l lb of each: raisins, currants, golden raisins, breadcrumbs, brown sugar
8oz Suet
4oz each: Mixed peel, glace cherries chopped, almonds chopped
1 each: Lemon - grate rind, orange - grate rind, carrot - grated, apple - grated
1 tbs Flour
1 tsp mixed spice
Pinch salt
6-8 Eggs
10oz stout (bottle) or dark beer (Guiness is good)
OR 5 ozs each brandy & milk.

Mix dry ingredients,  then mix with lightly beaten eggs & liquid. Grease the bottom of a bowl large enough to hold the pudding and press mixture into it. Place wax paper over the top and then foil over that, crimping it around the edges to keep firm. 


Either cook in pan with water on stove for 4 hours. Keep checking water in pan to prevent burning. Store well wrapped for as long as possible for better flavor.  I did it in November (I have read that some people make them one year to eat the next............)

Christmas puddings are quite dense because of all the fruit, nuts, etc. they contain. Steaming is the best method of cooking because it allows a slow cooking which ensures a moist and palatable result. If you use a faster cooking method for a Christmas pudding you will get a crusty pudding.