The Rakfisk, as Smalahovud and Lutefisk, dates back to the ancient Scandinavian culture and peoples need to store food over a considerable period of time. The first record of rakfisk probably dates back to mid 1300's. The course is actually salted, stored trout, and is a popular dish around Christmas time.
App. 400 tons of "rakfisk" is produced in Norway every year, mainly from farmed rainbow trout. The more sophisticated trout is the wild mountain trout, normally a little smaller. In ancient times large amounts "rakfisk" were produced in the middle and north Norway. Today "rakfisk" has become a trademark of Valdres.
Rakfisk is mostly made from fresh trout, although char may also be used. During preparation it is of paramount importance that the fish must never be in contact with soil. Fish infected with bacteria clostridium botulinum may cause botulism.
Generally fish above 750 gr. are used commercially. The gills and guts are removed together with all remains of blood. The fish is rinsed and put in vinegar solution for 30 min. The fish is then put in a bucket with abdomen filled with salt, and small amounts of sugar to speed up the process between each layer of fish
The fish should be placed under soft pressure, lidded and stored in a cool stable temperature. After a couple of days, the process should be checked to see of brine is generated and covers the fish. More saltbrine may be added if necessary, and the fish is stored for 2 - 3 months before it is consumed. Higher temperatures will speed up the "raking" process, and diluting the salt content, will slow the process. The recipies may differ, and each manufacturer or family making their own "rakfisk" has their own secret.
Every year on a staurday in beginning of November a "Rakfisk" festival is held in Valdres. What started with idea to let the customers taste the fish before purchase, has grown from a small event in early 1990 to one of Norway biggest food festivals with more than 25.000 visitors. Today only producers in Valdres are allowed to compete in the festival, and during the festival in 2009, 3 tons of Rakfisk was consumed. There is no mention of the amount of liters if Aquavit consumed during the festival, - but the local Police has complained about lack of personell !
If you are interested in "Rakfisk", check out these links:
Norsk Rakfiskfestival - In Norwegian
The Norway Post