NORWEGIAN BOKNAFISK, ANYONE?
ALL OF THE SALT FISH: What We Ate in Norway

After five days, two boats, five flights, two hotels and over a dozen meals made from salt fish, our time in Norway as guests of the Norwegian Seafood Council came to an end.

But how could any cultural exchange be complete without documenting some of the most innovative uses of salt fish we (Jamaicans, that is) have ever seen?

From ingredient preparation (fun fact: Norwegians don’t boil the salt out of salt fish, but rather soak the fish for 24 hours, changing the water three times) to the myriad uses of salt fish, it was a week-long eye-opening master class. Here are three of our favourites.

Salt Fish Pizza

Salt Fish Pizza (Photos: Naphtali Junior)

Ingredients:

200g salt fish, soaked and flaked

25g yeast

⅔ cups water

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 ⅔ cups wheat flour

1 ¾ cheese, grated

2 teaspoons oregano

For Pizza sauce

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons tomato purée

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Stir the yeast into lukewarm water, add oil, salt and most of the flour. Work the dough until firm, and set to rise for approximately 20 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a baking tray with baking paper and let it rise for approximately 10 minutes.

Bake the pizza base in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, take it out, and set it to 430°F.

Make the pizza sauce. Sauté onion in oil until shiny, add three-quarters of the salt fish, tomato purée and canned tomatoes, and let the sauce simmer on low heat for eight to 10 minutes.

Finely chop chives and basil and add to the sauce when it is done. Add salt, pepper and sugar.

Spread the tomato sauce on the pizza base and cover with cheese.

Sprinkle with oregano and bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, until the cheese has a nice colour.

Take out the pizza, sprinkle with the remaining soaked salt fish and bake in the oven for two minutes. Serve hot.

Norwegian Bacalao (Salt Fish Stew)

Norwegian Bacalao (Salt Fish Stew)

Ingredients:

½ pound salt fish, soaked and the water changed twice

½ pound yellow onion, diced

½ pound Irish or yellow potatoes, cubed

1 red chilli, seeds removed (feel free to use ½ of a Scotch bonnet pepper)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ cups of tinned chopped tomatoes

1 bay leaves

12 black olives

⅓ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped

Method:

Remove the skin and bones from the salt fish and cut it into one-inch-thin slices.

Place the fish, potatoes and onions in a large pot — one layer for each ingredient, one layer at a time.

Add the finely chopped chilli or Scotch bonnet pepper and garlic to the pot with the bay leaves, olives and olive oil.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat and cover. Leave to simmer for approximately an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley just before serving. Serve with freshly baked bread.

Boknafisk (Cod with Rutabaga Purée and Bacon)

Boknafisk (Cod with Rutabaga Purée and Bacon)

Though this traditional recipe is usually made with semi-dried unsalted cod called stockfish, properly soaked salt fish is a good substitute for this remarkable dish. Also it’s accompanied by carrots in a bechamel sauce or mashed rutabaga (our preference), feel free to choose either.

Ingredients:

1 lb salt fish fillet, soaked, skin removed and cut into four pieces

2 cups rutabaga (or turnips), peeled and diced

⅓ lb bacon, coarsely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup butter

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Method:

Add rutabaga (or turnips) to a pot and add just enough water to nearly cover. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and let boil gently for 12 minutes. Add two of the pieces of salt fish. Leave to steam for seven to eight minutes, until the rutabaga is soft and the fish is cooked.

Fry the bacon in a pan.

Fry the rest of the fish in the bacon fat until a nice crisp crust is formed.

Mash the rutabaga (or turnips) with cream, butter, dried parsley, salt and pepper.

Serve the purée with pieces of both steamed and fried salt fish.

Vaughn Gray

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