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Origin of Stockfish
Drying is one of the oldest preservation methods for fish. It is unknown when the first fish was hung up for drying to preserve it. But for centuries drying and salting has been the only possibility for people living inland to store sea fish.
Production of Stockfish
Stockfish is usually produced from cod, pollock, haddock, ling or tusk. The fish are gutted and hung on wooden racks called flakes. The head is usually removed and the fish either split along the spine or two fish are bound together at their tail. The fish are then hung on horizontal sticks by their tails. The largest producer of stockfish is Norway, where it is known as törrfisk or stokkfisk and considered a national delicacy. Klippfisk on the other hand is salted and dried, lutefisk is stockfish or klippfish watered in a caustic lye soda made from potash.
Other stockfish producing countries besides Norway are for example Portugal and Spain. In warmer southern countries the fish is dried outside but under shades that prevent it from getting too hot.
Preparation of Stockfish
When dried, fish looses a lot of its original weight and unfortunately also flavour. The meat becomes tough and hard to digest. To prepare meals from it, it has to be soaked in water for several days. The water lets it swell to almost its original size.
Stockfish is traditionally popular in Nordic and Romanic cultures. One preparation method in Germany is to sweat well soaked stockfish pieces in butter and serve it with roasted breadcrumbs, sauerkraut and fried potatos. A Provencal specialty prepared with stockfish is brandade. Stockfish is also popular in West Africa, where it is served with grain dishes such as garri or fufu.