First, the fresh-caught fish is filleted and cleaned. Fishermen remove the roe and the tongue -- which will be sold separately -- and then hang the fish on the giant racks you see the photos (in the winter, they use smaller indoor racks). After about a week, the fish is ready to either be processed and stored or packaged and shipped. Africa, Italy, and Portugal are some of the top buyers of the Norwegian dried cod.
From there, the fish can be pounded to make chips, or it can be stowed for -- get this -- 3 or 4 years. This was an absolute dream for the Vikings, the cod making for extremely light yet nutritious cargo, perfect for feeding a massive group of people traveling aboard a small ship. The fish is consumed dry in the case of the "fish chips," but most of the time it is rehydrated and served as fillets. The fish must be soaked in a pot of water for about a week for it to return to its original size.
The fact that you can throw a year-old dried fish into a pot of water and have it come out nearly "fresh" is pretty amazing, albeit the entire process does require a bit of patience. And this tradition still continues today. The racks you see in the photos are from the harbor of Lofoton, a fishing village in the Arctic of Norway. Who's hungry?
[Photos: Terje Rakke/nordnorge.com]