Norway is a nation built on the sea and our methods have been passed down through generations. Clipfish – cod that has been both salted and dried – is an example of this heritage. The tradition of drying fish to preserve it dates all the way back to Viking times, but the process of salting fish began in the 15th century, when the Iberian fishermen were sailing to and from Newfoundland. Cod that had been preserved in salt would last the length of the journey.
Clipfish is also popular in Catholic countries, thanks to a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. The Pope ordered Catholics to eat fish instead of meat during Lent, so Norwegians have exported clipfish to Catholics around the world for many years. This blessing is just one of the reasons why Norway has become the largest supplier of salted and dried cod in the world.
Salted and dried
As with most ancient methods of curing, creating clipfish is a simple process. ‘Klippfisk’ literally means ‘rockfish’, a name derived from the traditional process of leaving the cod to dry out on flat rocks by the seaside. Today it is mainly dried indoors using modern techniques. Clipfish is appreciated by chefs the world over because of its versatility, wonderful texture and distinctive taste.
How we make Clipfish
There are a few different ways that fish can be salted – dry salting, brining or pickling. Here in Norway, we tend to pickle our fish so that the water doesn’t run out of the container, but is instead used to cover the fish.
Depending on the preference of the market, clipfish is usually salted and matured for 10-20 days to create its unique flavour. Norwegians typically use 0.5-1 kilos of salt per kilo of fish and prefer to use sea salt in their recipes.
Once the fish has been salted, it is put onto pallets and left to dry indoors. In Norway we use specially designed drying tunnels in which temperatures are between 20-25°C.
The length of time it takes for the fish to dry depends on its size and how it was salted, so it can be anywhere between 2-7 days. The producer must keep a watchful eye on the fish to make sure that it doesn’t dry out too much, or too quickly.
The fish is ready when it has a water content of around 40-50% (depending on the market). It is then stored at a low temperature, between 0-5°C
The clipfish is then sorted by quality – the highest of which is “Superior/Primeira”. Sizes vary from the smallest 31/40 (31-40 fish per 50kg carton), to the largest 8/10 (8-10 fish per 50kg carton).
In Brazil, Norwegian clipfish is considered to be a delicacy. Here it is more expensive than fillet mignon.
The catch is key
While clipfish can be made with saithe, ling and tusk, the most authentic recipe uses cod. Luckily, Norway has some of the largest cod stocks in the world. More than 90% of Norway’s cod comes from the Northeastern Arctic Cod stock, which is the largest fish in the cod family. When salted, and dried this cod has a lovely pale flesh and uniform colour.
Clipfish can also be made from cod that has been frozen, so we are able to produce it year-round.
of Norway’s cod comes from the Northeastern Arctic Cod stock.
When salted and dried, this cod has a lovely pale flesh and uniform colour.
Clipfish is highly appreciated by chefs all over the world because of its versatility, wonderful texture and distinct taste.
Madeline PelaezDominican Chef
Enjoyed around the world
Norway exports clipfish to Portugal, Brazil, Italy, France, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, USA, South Africa and Angola.
On the menu
Clipfish is a staple ingredient for so many cultures around the world. It’s an extremely versatile product that can be boiled, minced, deep-fried, pan-fried and roasted. In Portugal alone there are up to 1000 recipes for clipfish.
On the menu
Pizza and clipfish
Norwegian clipfish has long and historical traditions in many countries, but is also served in more modern ways, for example in pizza.
On the menu
Clipfish is most popular at Christmas, Easter and on special occasions such as Father’s Day, when it is eaten as part of the celebratory meal. In Brazil, clipfish is enjoyed during celebrations and carnivals. In fact, during the 2007 Rio de Janeiro Carnival – the biggest in the world - clipfish was the official mascot of the city’s famous samba school.
On the menu
In Norway, clipfish is regularly served in a heartwarming, spicy stew with potatoes and onions.
“O fiel Amigo” - Faithful friend
The Portuguese eat more clipfish than anywhere else in the world – approximately 10 kilos per person a year. In Portugal, this valuable protein source has earned the name ‘faithful friend’ and it can be served more than a thousand different ways. In fact, clipfish is so important to the culture of Portugal that is said a woman is not ready for marriage until she knows 365 recipes for clipfish – that’s one for each day of the year!
Rinse the clipfish in clean, cold water to remove the excess salt, and then place the fish into a bowl to soak. There should be at least 3X as much water as fish and the water should be between 6-8°C.
Pour fresh water over the clipfish every 8 hours.
The clipfish will be ready to cook after 48 hours.
In order to make the most of your clipfish, we recommend the following cuts.
High in protein, low in fat
One of the main benefits of preserving cod is locking in all of the natural nutrients, such as Vitamin A, for a later date. Clipfish is also rich in protein and low in fat, which makes it an ideal choice for your health conscious customers.
Nutrition value per 100 g of boneless clipfish, salted and dried
|- Saturated fat||0.13 g|
|- Monounsaturated fat||0.08 g|
|- Polyunsaturated fat||0.28 g|
|- Omega 3 (n-3)||0.24 g|
|- Omega 6 (n-6)||0.02 g|
Frequently asked questions
Norway's fish industry operates in accordance with EU food safety legislation. Our Food Safety Authority is responsible for checking food safety, recommending new measures and drawing up regulations. The Scientific Committee for Food Safety is responsible for conducting risk assessments. You can find out more about how we ensure the quality of our seafood here.
Yes – in fact it’s encouraged. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that women eat more seafood while pregnant.
The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety has concluded that it is safe to eat sushi while pregnant, so this extends to raw clipfish. If you are preparing raw fish, make sure that the cooling chain has not been broken during transportation. You must freeze the fish first to kill any parasites.
Only salt. Clipfish doesn't contain any phosphates.
Keeping clipfish in the fridge will give it the longest shelf life. Clipfish can be stored for a maximum of 18 months.
Drying and preserving cod in salt makes it suitable for use in warmer countries where bacteria grows more easily. Clipfish is also a versatile product – once it has been rehydrated, it can be used in a wide variety of recipes.