Norwegian: Saltfisk

Adding salt to cod is a method that can be traced all the way back to the 15th Century. It's a technique that was developed to preserve fish ahead of long journeys, ensuring that sailors had the nutrition they needed for months at sea. Salt has antibacterial properties, so it gives fish a longer shelf life and makes it suitable for storing at warmer temperatures – hence this method of preserving fish became popular in hotter countries, such as Spain and Portugal.

Norwegian saltfish has a distinctive pale yellow colour and a delicate texture. Its flavour is exquisite – mature and delicious. It’s these qualities that have made our particular variety of saltfish so popular.

simply salted

Transforming cod into saltfish is a simple process, but one that has been refined over thousands of years. To this day, the only ingredients we add are salt and time, which enable the high quality raw product to mature.

Cod being salted

Step one: Salting

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.

Step two: Maturation

The cod is then layered and left to mature over a period of 3-4 weeks. The fish can stay in its container for longer, as it will reach a point where no more salt can be absorbed. The maturing process gives the salted cod its distinct and desired flavour – as it does for high quality cheese or wine.

Salted cod arranged in stacks on pallets
Salted cod in different sizes and qualities

Step three: Sorting

The water is removed from the containers and the saltfish is sorted according to quality and size. There are three quality standards – superior, universal and mixed – and a range of sizes from ‘kid’ to ‘jumbo’.

Hung Fai
I believe that quality ingredients are the fundamental base for any kind of cooking. That is why I always use the best products in my creations. Among these, you’ll find the Bacalao Tradicional Noruego with its outstanding texture and taste. Thanks to Norwegian saltfish and the great variety of dishes, I have been able to please the most demanding palates. I truly recommend it.

Hung Fai

Spanish chef

the catch is key

Creating delicious saltfish requires the very best in raw materials. Luckily, Norway has some of the largest cod stocks in the world. Between February and April, shoals of millions of fish make their way from the Barents Sea to the spawning grounds on Norway’s northern coast. The fishermen make the most of the abundance of high quality cod, swiftly taking their nets to the seas.

In order to make quality saltfish, it’s essential that the fishermen cut the throat of the fish immediately and let it bleed out in flowing seawater. This ensures that most of the blood is removed before salting. Saltfish can also be made from cod that has been frozen, so we are able to produce it year-round.

Infographic showing fish swimming towards a sign with the text Northern coast

Millions of fish make their way from the Barents Sea to the spawning grounds on Norway’s northern coast.

Infographic showing two fish surrounded by snowflakes

Saltfish can also be made from cod that has been frozen, so we are able to produce it year-round.

Strict controls

Norwegian saltfish is exported all over the world. It represents us and so we are passionate about its quality. Throughout the season there is a strict managing and monitoring process in place to ensure quality at every stage.

Infographic showing a magnifying glass and a graph

Throughout the season there is a strict managing and monitoring process in place to ensure quality at every stage.

The quality of the salt directly impacts the quality of the saltfish, so we only use fresh, clean salt throughout the process. In fact, it is illegal to reuse salt once it has been used to make saltfish.

Soaking saltfish

Saltfish has a very high salt content and must be soaked before eating. Follow these simple instructions to enjoy delicious saltfish every time.

Infographic showing a fish in a bowl of water

Step one: Soak

Rinse the saltfish 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.

Infographic showing water dripping on a fish

Step two: Change the water

Pour fresh water over the saltfish every 8 hours.

Infographic showing a pot with the number 48hrs

Step three: Ready to cook

The saltfish will be ready to cook after 48 hours.

Infographic showing recommended cuts for bigger and smaller sizes clipfish

Step four: Portions

In order to make the most of your saltfish, we recommend the following cuts.

When saltfish is made it contains roughly 20 % salt, 55 % water and 25 % protein. Some of this salt is removed through the soaking process. 

nutritious and delicious

One of the main benefits of preserving cod is locking in all of the natural nutrition for a later date. Saltfish is tasty and easily digested; it also contains many of the nutritional properties of fresh cod. It is rich in protein and vitamin D, so your customers can enjoy a delicious meal with all of the added health benefits.

Saltfish is rich in protein and vitamin D, so your customers can enjoy a delicious meal with all of the added health benefits.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know that salted cod from Norway is safe?

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 
 

Is it safe for pregnant women to eat fish and seafood?

Yes – in fact it’s encouraged. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that women eat more seafood while pregnant.
 

What about raw saltfish?

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety has concluded that it is safe to eat sushi while pregnant, so this extends to raw saltfish. 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.