Lutefisk on menu at Nordic dinner

It’s slimy, gooey and shakes like Jell-O — fishy, white Jell-O. But the gooey lutefisk tastes good, according to Nordic Lodge President Brian Petersen.

“All of the Scandinavian countries preserve fish by this method,” Petersen said in an email.

“No one knows exactly where the practice of preserving fish by this method occurred, but as I am sure you can speculate, there are many ‘legends.’”

Lutefisk means ‘lye-fish,’ preserved by drying, being treated with lye, and then washed and reconstituted, Petersen said.

It will be part of the main course at a “Lutefisk and Meatball Dinner” hosted by the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge in Central Whidbey on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Though this year’s tickets are sold out, the dinner is expected to become an annual tradition, according to Petersen.

“This is the first attempt our lodge has done to host a lutefisk dinner,” he said. “The idea came from one of our members, Laurie O’Brien. She loves lutefisk and proposed we do a dinner as a fundraiser for our lodge.”

The idea proved popular, and they ended up maxing out tickets with about 140 people expected to attend.

The actual taste of lutefisk is mild.

“The real flavor comes from the toppings put on the fish: butter, a white sauce, and sometimes crumbled bacon or salt pork,” Petersen said.

Other cultural foods to be served at the dinner include Swedish meatballs and gravy and lefse, which is a thin flat bread that is buttered, sprinkled with sugar or mixture of sugar and cinnamon then rolled and eaten, Petersen said.

The lodge hired a professional to cook the lutefisk.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Lori Hansen, a lodge member, who will play the accordion.

Vern Olsen, of the Shifty Sailors, will sing and play his accordion.

Lutefisk is typically available during the Christmas season, Petersen said.

For locals who missed grabbing a ticket in time, but still want to try some lutefisk, New Day Fisheries in Port Townsend supplies lutefisk to multiple lodges and to the Skagit Valley’s Farmhouse Restaurant in La Conner.

“In the Scandinavian countries, the practice is much less than it used to be, but still exists,” Petersen said.

“In America, the emigrants continued to eat Lutefisk … Today, more lutefisk is eaten in Wisconsin than all of Norway.”

The lodge is located at 63 Jacobs Road.

For information, visit whidbeyislandnordiclodge.wordpress.com

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