Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a dish you either love or hate, and in Minnesota the trend seems to lean toward loving it.
A century-old Minnesota company has this dish down to a science.
“It’s a tradition the Scandinavians always had for the holiday season,” said Chris Dorff of Olsen Fish Company.
The lutefisk dinner, a dish native of Nordic countries, dates back centuries, but time has had no effect on its popularity. If anything, Minnesotans want more.
“I think it’s the time of year for remembrance and celebration of their heritage,” Dorff said.
At the Olsen Fish Company, extra workers are brought in during the holiday season to keep up with demand.
Of the half-a-million pounds of lutefisk sold here during the year, 90 percent or orders come in from October through December.
Throughout the building, you’ll find different phases of production — from the dried cod still in the bag, to the soaking process of fish in lye or fresh water.
“It takes about two weeks to produce this,” Dorff said.
But it’s not just lutefisk that’s in demand. Two million pounds of pickled herring are packed up and shipped out.
“Everybody has this aura that it’s such a scary, stinky and slimy thing,” Dorff said. “Really, when it’s done right and you’re getting good, fresh fish, it can be really good.”
There are several churches around the metro that are planning their lutefisk dinner.
One of the biggest is Mount Olivet. That dinner is next week and it apparently always sells out.