Swedish Lutefisk Recipe

The informant is 77 years old. She was born in Minnesota, and is of Swedish and Finnish descent.

Over Easter Brunch, my informant supplied me with some traditional Swedish folklore. The first thing that came to her mind was a recipe for Lutefisk that her family used to make. This is what she told me about the traditional Swedish recipe:

“Lutefisk is an old Swedish fish dish. It’s cod preserved in lye. I think my mother used to soak it in milk, or actually probably water. The only time she would make it was Christmas Eve. I used to help a little bit, but I think I mostly got in the way. It was actually really disgusting. No one liked it, not even my mother who spent the time making it every year! I don’t know why we kept making it for so long, but it was a traditional thing that made us feel more connected to our roots. After leaving the old country, it was nice for my parents to have a little something traditional, even if no one really enjoyed it!”

I agree with my informant’s reasoning about why the tradition continued. If no one actually enjoyed eating the lutefisk, then it was most likely made as a way to stay in touch with the family’s Swedish heritage after moving to America.


1 piece dried lutefisk, sawed into 6 lengths

2 tablespoons lye

Prep: Soak the fish in water for 3 days. Add two Tbsp. lye into a gallon of water. Soak for 3 days in this solution. Then soak for 4 days in water, changing water every day.

Cooking: Tie the fish loosely in a square of cheese cloth. Drop in a large enamel pot of boiling water. Cook 10 minutes or until well done. Remove cheese cloth put on a platter and debone. Serve with a mustard sauce.