The largest Norwegian food export (in fact the main Norwegian export of any kind for most of the country’s history) in the past has been stockfish (tørrfisk in Norwegian). The Atlantic cod variety known as skrei because of its migrating habits, has been a source of wealth for millennia, fished annually in what is known as the Lofotfiske named for the island chain of Lofoten. Stockfish has been a staple food internationally for, in particular on the Iberian peninsula and the African coast. Both during the age of sail and in the industrial age, stockfish played a part in world history as an enabling food for cross-Atlantic trade and the slave trade triangle.
Due to seafood’s availability, seafood dishes along the coast are usually based on fresh produce, typically poached (fish) and very lightly spiced with herbs, pepper, and salt. While coastal Norwegians may consider the head, roe, and liver an inseparable part of a seafood meal, most inland restaurants do not include these in the meal. In Northern Norway a dish called mølje, consisting of poached fish, roe, and liver, is often considered a “national dish” of the region, and it is common for friends and family to get together at least once during winter for a møljekalas ( loosely translated, “mølje feast”). A number of the fish species available have traditionally been avoided (especially those perceived as scavengers, due to a fear of indirectly eating friends or family members who had died at sea) or reserved for bait, but most common seafood is part of the modern menu