Lutefisk is a primarily Norwegian type of dried cod or ling or stockfish (not salted before it is dried) that is soaked in changes of water for about a week and then "luted" by adding caustic soda to the water. It is then cured in this "lye" for another 4 days or so. The fish will swell and become tender. After this it is again soaked in water for 4-5 days. It has an almost jelly-like consistency and may be baked and served with clarified butter or coated with white sauce in which form it is a traditional celebratory dish served at Christmas, at Thanksgiving among Norwegian-Americans and other festivals. 1 kg dry fish makes about 5 kg lutefisk. In its finest form, lutefisk has a delicately mild buttery flavour and flaky consistency. In its not-so-fine form, it is reminiscent of fish-flavoured gelatin.
Lutefisk is associated with hardship and courage. In Bergen the stockfish were wind-dried 500 years before Columbus sailed to the Americas. It is usually simmered and served with boiled potatoes and vegetables.
Gary Maloy professes to enjoying the less jellied style. He states that the 'jelloed' style of lutefisk is created by an over-exposure to the heat of the oven. Less done, he defines it as 1/3-1/2 'jelloed', he finds it completely delicious, and eats it with bacon bits and bacon fat, pea stew, boiled potatoes and sometimes cabbage in white sauce.