Oh Dear Cod | Eat This Above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway

From Cod to Kanelsnurr to Cloudberries 

Let’s Taste Northern Norway

Ah Norway. The big brother of the Scandinavian siblings. To me, Norway is like the tall, athletic hulky older brother who braves Arctic temperatures and winters without light while running up mountains with kids on his back to all ski down; he believes that every problem can be solved simply by going outside.

In comparison, sweet tow-headed sister Sweden – she’s got flowers in her hair, shares her land but waves from a canoe as she paddles out to her archipelagos to forage for lingonberries in her cute clogs and colorful clothes.

Denmark is the moody little brother whose lands aren’t as large, but is still happy ’cause – you know, hygge – and he thinks his sibs aren’t quite as cool as he cruises by on a bike wearing skinny pants and fancy white trainers while sipping a locally roasted small batch coffee on the way to the latest craft beer release. (Ok, maybe that’s just the Copenhagen version.)

But Norway, he is rugged. It’s true. Norway is. Whether you think Norwegians are or not. The landscape here surges from the sea in stark sharp peaks and fierce fjords. And so much sea. In fact, Norway has more coastline than most countries in the world. Only 7 countries have more.¹ And 90% of all Norwegians live in places by the sea.²  Think Vikings and hearty bearded fisherman. Or just people who eat fish. Lots and lots of fish.

My not-quite Norwegian with his not so impressive catch!

Yep. You guessed it. Seafood is supreme in this coastal country. Now you sea it. Norway is actually the second largest exporter of seafood in the world.³ With their clean, clear waters and a sustainable population of migrating fish species, it is easy to see why. So naturally, the diet here is dominated by food plucked from the cold waters. Especially above the Arctic Circle. And you should try some. Here’s what and here’s why.

What You Should Taste When Traveling to Northern Norway

1 | SEAFOOD

You knew that was coming right? But what kind of seafood can you expect? Here is a list of the most common kinds of seafood you’ll find on menus and in shops above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway:

TORSK = COD
LAKSSALMON
MAKRELL = MACKEREL
ØRRET = TROUT
REKER
= COLDWATER PRAWNS
SAITHE
POLLOCK
SEICOALFISH

Of all of these fiske, Cod is king. When traveling to the nordlands, keep an eye out for Skrei on the menu. This is a special kind of Norwegian cod that migrates down from the Barents Sea and is considered a delicacy up here. It differs slightly from the coastal cod caught in the rest of the country. Come March the waters around the Lofoten Islands are full of these funky looking fish and this is when the bulk of each annual haul comes in to be processed.

Much of that caught cod is dried in a traditional way that dates back to before recorded history. Gutted and split, the fish is hung outside on racks to cure in the cold Arctic air without salt or smoke. When visiting Lofoten, you can’t miss the huge wooden racks all over the islands. Once dried, the cod is now called Tørrfisk, or Stockfish, and is perfectly preserved. Try some dried and you can conjure your inner Leif Eriksson knowing that stockfish like this sustained Vikings over their long sea journeys. When dry, it has a fibrous jerky texture and is an acceptable snack after your hike and is not as fishy as you might think.

But Vikings aside, stockfish is really much tastier once cooked in a dish. To do so, it first has to be reconstituted for a few days. We tried it and I’ll tell you it was truly tasty and surprisingly moist. We enjoyed this delicious dish at the Karoline Restaurant in Nusfjord for our anniversary dinner.

Stockfish | Tørrfisk and potatoes over pea purée from Karoline Restaurant at Nusfjord, Lofoten

Where to Eat Some Tasty Arctic Seafood

Kjelen Kafé
Ripnesveien 40
8056 Saltstraumen, Bodø
TRY THIS: Order the Seibiff with onions and potatoes. 

Karoline Restaurant at Nusfjord
Nusfjord, N-8380 Ramberg | Lofoten Norway
+47 76 09 30 20
TRY THIS: The Stockfish plate du jour and the Cloudberry Crème Brulée.

Anita’s Sjømat
Sakrisøya, 8390 Reine | Lofoten Norway
+47 958 56 525
TRY THIS: The fish burger FOR SURE. It is fantastisk! Anita’s came highly recommended by many a local. I also loved the take away peel and eat prawns with house-made aioli. Garlicky and delicious. Great place to sit outside on the water and enjoy views of Mt. Olstind.

Krammervika Havn
8373 Ballstad, Kræmmervikveien 36 | Lofoten Norway
+ 47 916 61 330
TRY THIS: The fiske suppe (fish soup) was one of my favorites. Kitschy inside dining in pub and lovely deck to eat outside when the weather is nice. Perfect after a hike up Ballstadheia.


2 | CHEESE

This might sound cheesy, but Norwegians have a thing for cheese. But the most Norwegian and iconic version known as Brunost is not exactly cheese. Per se. It’s whey. Wait a minute. What? Ok. Go with me. Whey is the byproduct created from actual cheese production. You’ve heard of curds and whey? Little Miss Muffet? Anyone? So the curds make the cheese. The whey – well it doesn’t. No way. Whey.

Unless you are in Norway. Then the whey is used to make one of the most beloved Norwegian foods. Brunost. They take the whey and boil it down to a carmelly brown color then form it into blocks of a smooth slightly sweet, a little nutty creamy “cheese.” Directly translated, the name literally means brown cheese. If you come to Norway, you shouldn’t leave without trying it. You slice it thin with a metal cheese slicer and eat it on sandwiches, crispbread and waffles. Yes. Waffles. This is the best way if you ask me.

If you want to learn more about cheese making and love listening to someone passionate about her product, check out Den Sorte Gryte north of Svolvær in the Lofoten Islands. We met Jorunn Husjord, owner, goat herder and master cheese maker while on a glamping safari with WildSeas. She showed us her big black pot (den sorte gryte) she uses to slowly get her brunost to that caramel colored perfection. You can taste and see the difference between her artisan cheese and the store bought variety.

Where to Eat Some Tasty Norwegian Cheese

Den Sorte Gryte
8412 Vestbygd, Lofoten Norway
+47 994 04 300
TRY THIS: Brunost, Camembert, and Cheesecake. 

Markens Grøde
8093 Kjerringøy, Bodø Norway
+47 911 44 613
TRY THIS: Kvitost.

Little Miss Muffet she sat on a tuffet, eating her curds eating and whey.
Along came a spider who sat down beside her.
And frightened Miss Muffet away…”


3 | WAFFLES

Bring on the waffles! Not just for breakfast anymore. Actually up here, they never actually were. And don’t look for your maple syrup, you won’t find it anywhere near. In Norway, waffles are enjoyed more like an afternoon snack. In the UK, you’d take tea and some biscuits. In the States, we might do cookies and milk. In Denmark, you’d have cake. In Denmark, you always have cake. But in Norway. It’s waffles. Guests coming over? Mom has waffle batter in the fridge at the ready. (At least WildSeas captain Fred Erik Torhus‘ Norwegian mom does.)

And without maple syrup what do you put on your waffle up north? Cheese! Or brunost rather. Don’t knock it until you try it. It’s the perfect place for it perhaps. It melts and adds a rich creamy sweetness. But not too sweet. Just right. Or try yours with fresh preserves and a plop of tangy creme fraiche. Or maybe like me, you might do all three. I don’t know if that way is Norwegian or not, but I will admit, I enjoyed it. A lot.

You can get waffles just about everywhere. You’ll find them on the ferries and in cafes and pubs. We loved them warm and fresh at the Stampen Cafe in tiny Sund. Super cozy inside but if you are lucky to take your waffle out on the deck, then you should most definitely do so. While the brunost-y waffle melts in your mouth, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the bay and the mountains.

Where to Waffle way up North in Norway

Stampen Cafe
40, Fv810, 8384 Sund i Lofoten, Norway


4 | KANELSNURR = CINNAMON SWIRLS

Scandinavians make darn good baked goods and the Norwegians are no exception. Beyond Norsk waffles, I can safely say that the kanelsnurr are the way to go. Cinnamony strips of sweet pastry are impossibly twisted into yummy balls of goodness. You can find them many places, but should really make your way to an old school Norwegian bakery and have one plucked straight from the pile fresh out of the oven. You won’t be disappointed. Lofoten locals all agree that the kanelsnurr from the old bakery in Å are the best.

Where to Find Your Own Cinnamon Swirls

The Bakeri at Å
Å i Lofoten in the Old House
880, E10, 8392 Sørvågen, Norway
+47 76091488

 

5 | REINDEER

What? You want me to eat Rudolph? Or Prancer? Oh no, you sillies. These aren’t Santa’s sleigh drivers. Reindeer are a staple of the indigenous Sami culture’s diet and lifestyle. But whatever you do – don’t ask a Sami how many reindeer he has in his herd. I may or may not have learned this the hard way. Luckily this Sami charmingly explained to me that this is like asking someone how much money they have in the bank. Ok. Now I know. Now you know.

But however many reindeer a herder may have, the animals are still raised using ancient techniques and traditions. Can’t imagine eating these impressive animals? Have you ever eaten deer? Venison? Reindeer is similar, but the Sami say better. You can try it many ways, but we tested it in some tasty sausage.


6 | CLOUDBERRIES

Should you come across the opportunity to try the rare Arctic cloudberry (molter) you can’t pass it up. Known as highland gold up here, these little beauties are coveted by Norwegians come summer. They grow on a vine similar to strawberries and raspberries, but are sparse and hard to find. No one shares where they have their secret patch cache. If you find one, do try it, but make sure it is ripe and that you aren’t on private land.

Unripe berries are terribly tart. Like squeeze your face tart. Cloudberries start out whitish then ripen from red into an orangey color where they are quite soft and full of juice. The seeds are like those in blackberries, but quite a bit bigger. The taste is tangy and sweet-sour and juicy. They were a perfect balance cooked into our celebratory crème brulée. Have you tried them? Do you like them?


So while this list isn’t exhaustive, I hope it has whet your appetite to try some of the distinctively Norwegian tastes you will find above the Arctic Circle. Have you tried some of these? What did you like? What could you leave? What did I miss? What must I taste next time? I most definitely want to go back. I adore Norway. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

 

Suitcases and Sandcastles

47 thoughts on “Oh Dear Cod | Eat This Above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway

  1. Erin, you are a blast! I love your irreverent writing style which together wit the photos produce a very enjoyable and informative blog. Still not convinced about the dried fish but would eat cloudberries if only for the name! Oh and have Trader Joes Candied pecans for you !

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      No? I mean tørrfisk isn’t wigety grubs or almost alive octopus, it’s like jerky to be honest! You can do it! And candied pecans – yes please!

  2. Everything looks so delicious, and your photos are mouthwatering! I’ve been loving living vicariously through you on this trip! Everything you’ve shared new to me yet you’ve done an amazing job of making everything seem friendly and welcoming, like anyone could go and have the same wonderful experiences!

  3. I am fully on board with Norwegian cuisine. Even those tasty hotdogs/polsen. The seafood is exceptional and has a lot to do with the pristine waters it is fished from I think. We had the best moules marinieres ever in Bergen (sorry France). But I just cant with the whale.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      To be fair – he did catch a bigger fee later in the evening – I just didn’t get the pic!! Thanks for reading!

  4. Wow there are some seriously good looking food pics in this post! I visited Bergen and Oslo last month and while I loved Norway, I couldn’t get over how expensive it was! We didn’t get to eat out much but your seafood translation guide would have been super handy!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It is expensive you are correct! I guess it’s not as shocking to us after living in Copenhagen for three years! We rarely eat out here and only splurge a few times on holiday. But knowing that you can find some local eats, foods and treats to enjoy or cook yourself is always good way to keep budgets safer and still taste the culture! Thanks for chiming in – cheers from Copenhagen!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      At least you’re willing to try! I will admit that I prefer a big juicy Oregon raspberry to the Cloudberries (I think the seeds are too big) but was happy to find them in the wild – felt very sacred somehow!

  5. I LOVE reading your posts about Arctic Norway! It is so fun to see how foreigners see my world 🙂 And if you ever meet that older brother, pls send him over 😀 Did you try the ultimate Arctic Norway fish dish – mølja? Steamed cod, fish liver and fish roe. “The others” love it. I don’t 🙂 So rich!

      1. Once might be enough to put you off 😀 Can do the fish, potatoes, butter and flat bread, but I can not do the liver and the roe. This we had so often when I was a kid. Not happy 🙂

  6. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    I’m hooked! Just like that little tiddler.
    The food looks heavenly – I’m planning a feast of reindeer, cod and waffles in my mind.
    I remember eating a cinnamon swirl (or some kid of cinnamon pastry) before going on a whale-watching trip in Iceland, I also remember seeing it come back again over the side of the boat!

    I love your take on the characteristics of the Scandinavian countries. I read a great book a few years ago by Michael Booth – The Almost Nearly Perfect People (The Truth About the Nordic Miracle). It’s very funny so I’m sure you’d enjoy it.
    #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Yes – I know it! My friend who lived in Copenhagen and Oslo (and married a Norwegian) recommended it when we first moved here!!

  7. I love that comparison of the siblings – and it’s amazing how much variety there can be in what seems (to us) like a fairly ordinary fish! Cinnamon pastries always get my vote too #farawayfiles

  8. pigeonpairandme

    I love love LOVE this post! I tried brunost ice cream when I was in Oslo recently. It was the best! I’ve never had cloudberries, though. Need to go back….your descriptions of the different countries made me chuckle. #FarawayFiles

  9. afamilydayout

    Love your description of the countries. Fit them perfectly! My knowledge of Scandinavian cuisine is very limited but I can thank IKEA for introducing me to cinnamon swirls! Not sure how they taste compared to the real thing 😄 #farawayfiles

  10. Haha love the title! Cod is actually one of my few favorite fishes..I’m not a huge seafood person, to the dismay of most people in my life. The cinnamon swirls and berries look divine :). #farawayfiles

  11. Ruth

    I just had dinner but felt like eating everything in this post. I really enjoy trying new dishes or products in the places I visit. Wow, really surprised by all the good things that can be found in Northern Norway. I do not know if I can eat the “Rudolph” but I know my husband would devour it. It is the first time I hear about brunost.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I know – it doesn’t feel right to eat reindeer, but the Sami who are indigenous to the Arctic region have been raising and eating it for centuries!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Hej Agness! It really depends on what you are looking for out of your Norway experience. We loved being their in summer when the light never really faded and you could do so much! But I would LOVE to see the northern lights come winter, but prepare to bundle up! Spring and fall offer less crowds and not as cold, but unpredictable weather. Really I don’t think there is a bad time to see Norway!

  12. Oh my this is awesome! I love sweets, so wouldn’t mind having the berries with tarts or cakes, the waffles with creme fraiche (though I much prefer maple syrup but hey am willing to try something different)…and yes, I LOVE fish too! With all that food and sweets, I have no problems wanting to shed off the extra kilos by walking off along those spectacular Norwegian hiking trails. Beautiful! #FarawayFiles

  13. Clare Thomson

    Such a great idea for a post, Erin. I know so little about Norwegian cuisine but I love fish AND cheese so I’d be a very happy eater here. Not so convinced about the waffles mind…I particularly love the idea of the prawns you can take and peel outside. Where better than the stunning outdoors to enjoy the best of Norwegian food? #FarawayFiles

  14. mymeenalife

    This is a fantastically punny post and I really like how you compared the different countries like they were family members. Unfortunately I’m really not a fan of eating fish or cheese… but all your other recommendations sound delicious!

  15. Oh those cinnamon whirls! I am missing them already!! The kids went crazy for them too. And I never knew that Stockfish was a real thing before reading this… For us (and my eldest son in particular), Stockfish is a particularly strong chess computer that could beat a world champion in microseconds. Since the chess world champion actually is Norwegian, perhaps that is the link between the two? Anyhow, sorry for digressing and thanks for this delicious post! #FarawayFiles

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