A Taste of Norway: Top 20 Dishes
Norwegian cuisine has evolved over the decades. What we now recognize as varied, well-flavored dishes used to be reserved for only the wealthiest Norwegians. Due to a time of poor agriculture yields, the majority of the populace survived on the barest of dishes; porridge being a staple. However, by 1983, agriculture, and thereby ingredient options, improved dramatically. And by 1993, Bent Stiansen, a Norwegian Chef, won the coveted Bocuse d’Or cooking competition in Lyon, France. Today, Norway proudly lays claim to dishes that come from all forms of inspiration. From fish, wild game, cheeses, exotic bread, and of course, mouth-watering desserts.
Here are the top 20 Norwegian dishes. And for today, why not have dessert first?
1) Norwegian Butter Cookies – Dessert
Starting off with a simple classic: these butter cookies will stick to your ribs and satisfy your sweet tooth. The ingredients include eggs, butter, white sugar, flour, and vanilla extract. The cookie is typically served as more of a satisfyingly crunchy dish than its moist, cookie cousins. Christmas is a very large part of Norwegian culture, and it’s easy to see these little delights being served around Christmas time.
2) Norway’s Best Pepper Cookies – Dessert
We’re still in the land of cookies, but now, let’s take a turn on the creative side with Pepper Cookies. The ingredients are varied: butter, sugar, whipping cream, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda, and baking powder. This cookie, also a favorite around Christmas time, it more of the softer, gentler kind of cookie to be savored with a tall glass of milk.
3) Kringla – Dessert
And here we are with the pastries. This light and fluffy dish is also a Christmas favorite. Typically filled with apples or other sweetened fruits, the main dish is comprised of heavy cream, sour cream, sugar, shortening, egg yolk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract. It’s love at first sound with this dish, and cutting into the pastry sends a symphony of crackles before being promptly consumed.
4) Norwegian Hazelnut Cake – Dessert
Christmas cakes hold a special place in this author’s heart, given that we upheld a tradition popular in Japan: Christmas cake. Not to be outdone, the Norwegians pull out all the stops on their Christmas cakes. Comprised of: Hazelnuts, butter, white sugar, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, salt, whipping cream, chocolate chips, eggs, and vanilla extract. All are leading to a dense dessert (that can quickly become your dinner if you’re not careful with your portions.)
5) Norwegian Almond Cake – Dessert
During Christmas, it’s not just hazelnuts that steal the show; almond cakes take on a more savory aspect to the popular, Christmas tradition. Comprised of: Egg yolks, white sugar, heavy cream, butter, confectioner’s sugar, baking powder, and almond meal. If hazelnut cake is the sweet tooth’s dream, then this is the savory food seeking heaven.
6) Norwegian Krumkake – Dessert
At first glance: this dish could be accused of being a crape. But, if you look a little closer and listen a little harder as one cuts into the light dessert: it becomes apparent that it is, in fact, a waffle cookie. Traditionally, it’s served with some form of heavy cream in the middle of said waffle cone. The ingredients are rather simple. Being: Butter, sugar, eggs, milk, flour, and vanilla extract (butter flavoring being optional)
7) Norwegian Sour Cream and Raisin Pie – Dessert
This pie is a hearty yet sweet dish, best served with a scoop of ice cream, or a generous, whip cream, dressing. Ultimately, this is one of the more simple dishes on our list. It’s comprised of Sour cream, white sugar, eggs, nutmeg, ground cloves, white vinegar, raisins, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
8) Norwegian Skolebrod – Dessert
Make no mistake: while technically considered to be a bun, this dish is adorned with a variety of syrups, jellies, and powdered sugars. Twenty points for whoever can guess when this dish is usually served. (The answer is Christmas.) How is this dish brought to life? It’s comprised of Dry yeast, warm milk, melted butter, wheat flour, sugar, cardamom, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, milk, vanilla extract, and unsalted butter.
9) Norwegian Fruit Soup – Dessert
There are some dishes that, on paper, don’t seem to go together. Soup? Fruit? Dessert? What? But, the Norwegians have been serving this exotic dish for a very, very long time. And when have your first spoon full, you’ll see why. Comprised of: water, long grain white rice, cinnamon sticks, apple, pitted dark sweet cherries, packaged unsweetened frozen raspberries, sweetened whipped cream. The dish is a perfect balance of a hearty, starchy base, and a sugar flavoring.
10) Multekrem – Dessert
Multekrem is ultimately comprised of two parts. Standard whip cream, and one of the most sought-after berries on the planet: cloudberries. The cloudberries’ rareness is ultimately due to the fact that it is not grown commercially. So, with so little stock, and sky-high demand, a taste of this decadent fruit is both a flavorful experience, it’s also an economic privilege.
I hope you’ve saved room for more; because we have some mouth-watering side dishes to go over.
11) Brown Cheese – Side Dish
Brunost is the epitome of waste not, want not. As opposed to how most cheeses are made: Brown Cheese is made from caramelized, aged whey, giving it a rich and full-bodied flavor. While eating the cheese alone is a pleasure: it’s traditionally served on toast. Yum!
12) Tube Caviar – Side Dish
When most people think of caviar, they typically consider it to be a high class, expensive meal that’s either canned or served fresh from the fish. Tube caviar is the convenient, relaxed cousin of traditionally prepared caviar. More interestingly, the texture is that of a fine paste. So if you’re a Ritz cracker enthusiast, this caviar will stick onto the cracker with reckless abandon.
13) Pickled Herring – Side Dish
Given Norway’s geographical location, fish is a mainstay in the Norwegian diet. Pickled Herring is no exception. Unlike many pickled types of meat, the fish can be bathed in practically anything; from white vinegar to a finely aged sherry. Like many foods on our list, it’s quite traditional to serve this side dish during Christmas.
14) Lutefisk – Side Dish
No article about Norwegian food would be complete without Lutefisk. Soaked in lye, the fish becomes a translucent, yet intense, side dish. The method of soaking the fish in lye is a perfected art dating back hundreds of years. And, yep, you guessed it: it’s a popular dish around Christmas. The author of this article wouldn’t recommend leaving out lutefisk for old Saint Nick on Christmas Eve. Many consumers of the dish will tell you that it’s meant to be eaten, not smelled.
So, we’ve tantalized our taste buds with a swarm of desserts and an array of side dishes. Get ready to feast your eyes on some of the main courses: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
15) Potato Lefse – Breakfast
Have you ever looked at your flour based pancakes, and thought “y’know, this isn’t nearly intense enough”? Well, consider your thoughts answered. Although relatively thin, the potato batter is so incredibly dense, dipping it in a variety of sauces, syrups, and jams are nearly a necessity. The potato batter itself has a pasty texture, with an amazing crunch around the outside.
16) Pølse – Lunch
Ah, hot dogs. This American favorite gets the full, Norwegian treatment. This buffed up hot dog is comprised of ground pork, pepper, nutmeg, allspice or similar sweet spices, (ground mustard seed, onions, and sugar may also be added), water, lard, pork rind, potato starch flour, and soybean or milk protein. Given that this dish can be considered as “street food,” there are many ways to prepare this dish. A bun is an obvious choice, but the sausage can be wrapped in the sweet, sweet arms of caramelized bacon.
17) Fiskeboller – Lunch
Comprised of eggs, milk, fresh cod, and flour, this dish is Norway’s take on the classic fish and chips. The odd thing with the dish is that the ingredients are rolled into balls. Perfect for dunking in vinegar or tartar sauce. In Norway, this dish is usually complemented with apple slices and carrot wedges.
18) Matpakke – Lunch
Some foods are a simple art, Matpakke being one of them. While the word roughly translates to “packed lunch,” it’s how it’s packed that makes all the difference. Think of the dish as an open-faced sandwich (usually involving cheeses and fish). The meal is then wrapped in specialty Matpakke paper, keeping the food not only moist but prohibiting unwelcome flavors from leeching into the meal.
19) Kjøttkaker – Dinner
Meatballs come in all shapes, sizes, and spices. These Norwegian meatballs can technically made from a variety of meats, but, it’s traditionally put alongside mashed peas or creamed cabbage. The meatballs are also lavished with a thick, hearty gravy.
20) Klippfisk – Dinner
For the astute foodie, you might be thinking “but, wait! This dish originated in Spain!” Not exactly. Although dry pressing, salted fish as a way to preserve the meat was technically first mass-implemented in Spain, the meal has taken on wings of its own in Norway. In the dish Plukkfisk, the salty fish is boiled and picked from the bone before being folded into creamy mashed potato dollops (with a list of possible seasonings and sides to make the dish come alive).
Thank you for joining us on our culinary excursion. May your food adventures be ever captivating.