Fiskeboller i hvit saus – the most popular fish course in Norway

Fish balls served in a white sauce have been part of the Norwegian food culture for centuries. The world famous Norwegian polar explorer Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen and his team were the first to travel the Northwest Passage that goes round the northern parts of North America. When Amundsen was exploring the Arctic in 1918–1928, he brought along fish balls from Vesterålen as a snack.

Fish balls are always made of fresh Atlantic cod or haddock. Migrating cod of approx. 5 years of age that has been fished off the coast of Norway in winter is called skrei. The name originates from the Norwegian word skride that means trekking.

The firm, lean and white skrei meat is only available fresh from the beginning of January to the end of April. That is when the Norwegian fishing boats go out to sea from the Lofoten Islands. The ‘official opening’ of the skrei season is on Valentine’s Day – that is why it is playfully called ‘the love fish.’ Skrei fishing is a phenomenon that inspires the whole nation in Norway. It is as if Christmas-time feasting were extended into a three-month season.

Fish balls are also very popular as ready-made foods. One of the oldest fish ball factories, Vesteraalens fiskeboller, is located in Sortland, Northern Norway.

Fiskeboller (Norwegian fish balls)
12 to 15 balls
400 g Atlantic cod
2 dl whole milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp potato flour
1 egg
In addition
1 l fish stock
  1. Add the ingredients into a food processor and process the mixture until homogeneous (for approx. ½ minutes). Stir the fish patty with a bowl scraper in order to remove air bubbles to make the balls more presentable.
  2. Roll the fish patty into balls of approx. 50 g each. You can do this using two tablespoons.
  3. Slowly cook the fish balls in boiling fish stock for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with cheesy white sauce.
Cheesy white sauce
3 dl fish/crustacean stock
3 dl whole milk
50 g butter
1 finely chopped shallot
3 tbsp (45g) wheat flour
2 dl Le Gruyére AOP cheese, grated
1 tsp flake salt
lemon juice
pinch of ground nutmeg
For decorating
chopped chives or dill
  1. Finely chop the shallot. Sauté the chopped onions in butter in a pot until translucent.
  2. Add the wheat flour into the pot and stir well. Add the fish stock and milk with continuous stirring.  Add the grated cheese and cook until the cheese melts and the sauce is homogeneous.  Season the sauce with lemon juice, a dash of nutmeg and, if needed, salt.
  3. Add the fish balls into the sauce and allow them to heat up. Decorate the dish with shrimp tails and chives.
  4. Serve with boiled potatoes and carrots.
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