We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Rakfisk?

By C. Mitchell
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Rakfisk is a traditional Norwegian fish dish composed of raw but fermented freshwater fish, typically trout. In most preparations, the fish is soaked in brine soon after catching, and fermented in barrels for several months to preserve freshness. It is customarily a winter dish, and is popular at Christmas celebrations in Norway and throughout Scandinavia. The fish is typically served on flat bread with sour cream, onions, hard-boiled egg, and potatoes as garnish.

Vikings and medieval Norwegians are believed to have pioneered the rakfisk preparations that persist to this day. Much of Norway’s land is seacoast, and fishing has long been a major industry there. Before refrigeration was commonplace, early inhabitants had to find ways of making fish and other meats last, particularly through the harsh arctic winters. Fermentation and curing was one of the ways that they preserved fish. Traditional preparations of rakfisk and other pickled, jellied, or fermented fish dishes, while no longer necessary, have become an important part of Norwegian cuisine and culture.

Originally, the main fish harvest was in the autumn. The fish was generally buried in casks of brine in the frozen ground to ferment. On this schedule, the rakfisk was ready for consumption by about Christmastime. Modern technology allows for preparation and fermentation year-round, but the dish remains most popular in winter preparations and celebrations. An annual rakfisk festival takes place in eastern Norway each November, which opens the unofficial rakfisk season.

Modern-day Norwegian cooks prepare rakfisk in much the same way as their medieval ancestors did, albeit with more modern equipment. Once caught, the fish is gutted, but left in its skin. The flesh is soaked in brine for a few days, then rinsed and moved to a pressurized brining chamber where it will remain for one to three months. During that time, the proteins in the fish will break down, the brine will turn alcoholic, and the naturally created alcohol will preserve the fish.

Rakfisk is one of many uncooked fish dishes popular in Scandinavian cuisine. Gravlax or gravlak is a similar fermented fish dish made of salmon, and torrfisk is a dried cod preparation. Other traditional Norwegian fish dishes like lutefisk have a brined, fermented taste similar to that of rakfisk, even though they are cooked.

Despite being traditional, the dish is not universally loved by Norwegians. Like all fermented foods, it can be something of an acquired taste. Many also find the smell to be unsettling, although there are also those who discover that they find it quite appealing. Regardless of individual tastes, many Norwegians at home and abroad partake of rakfisk at Christmas and at other family gatherings for tradition and heritage’s sake, if nothing else.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.