From: Joseph S. Barrera III (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Nov 27 2000 - 14:23:08 PST
So I bet you're all now curious about LUTEFISK.
Well, you're in luck. Read all about it here:
Swedish Christmas Chemistry
"Lutfisk" - a Culinary catastrophe
One of the more remarkable Swedish Christmas dishes is lutefish or
"lutfisk", described in Webster's New International Dictionary as follows:
Lut'fisk, n. (Nor. & Sw. prop., lyed fish), stockfish which has been soaked
for several days in lye water to prepare it for cooking.
Most people outside Scandinavia find it a somewhat peculiar dish.
The preparation of the dish involves the use of rather strong chemical
Take two lbs. of stockfish (dried fish, preferably cod, lincod or saithe
caught in early summer) and cut each fish in three pieces. Place the pieces
in a wooden tub and soak them for a week in water (which should be changed
daily). Remove the pieces, clean the tub, and cover the bottom with 1/4 lb.
of slaked lime. Prepare a lye from 1/3 lb. of washing-soda (2 lbs. of birch
ashes will also do) and enough water to cover the pieces, and pour the lye
over the fish pieces. As they swell, add more water to keep them covered.
When the pieces are soft enough to allow a finger to penetrate easily (after
about a week), remove and rinse them, clean the tub, replace the pieces and
soak them in clear water for another two weeks. During the first week the
water should be replaced daily.
Melt some butter in a saucepan, put in the rinsed fish pieces, cover with a
lid and let them stew at low heat for 15-20 minutes. The lutefish is the
ready to be served, preferably with melted butter, mustard and Jamaica
pepper. Often a special mustard sauce is prepared.
The main effect of the alkali treatment is a softening of the tissues due to
dissolution of protein. The original 1000 grams of dried fish contained
about 750 grams of protein, but in the final product, although it weights 6
kgs, only 350 grams of protein remains.
The pH of the processed, water-soaked lutefish is around 11, but will rise
to 12 during the final steaming, probably because solid lime particles
dissolves in the tissues at the elevated temperature. Thus, lutefish is one
of the most alkaline dishes ever known.
The alkaline treatment also gives rise to the formation of new compounds
such as lysinoalanine (LAL), HOOC-CH(NH2)-(CH2)4-NH-CH2-CH(NH2)-COOH. In
rats, which are extremely susceptible, 250 ppm LAL in the feed for a week
can result in a reversible kidney damage called nephrocytomegaly. The LAL
content of lutefish can be as high as 300 ppm, which implies that this
Swedish Christmas dish is quite unsuitable for rats.
But don't be afraid! A "Right to Know" from Wisconsin, U.S.A., contains the
'Toxic substance' means any substance or mixture containing a substance
regulated by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration under
Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910, Subpart z, which is
introduced by an employer to be used, studied or produced in the workplace.
'Toxic substance' does not mean lutefish.
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