Fiskegrateng is a classic Norwegian baked fish and macaroni dish. Think of it as baked macaroni and cheese with cod and green peas mixed in to boot. I became introduced to fiskegrateng when I first moved to Norway – nearly 7 years ago- but had only ever known the stodgy processed stuff one finds in the freezer section of the grocery store until lately. A friend of mine made fiskegrateng with salmon and broccoli plus a very thin béchamel sauce, instead of the usual cod, peas and béchamel combo and I was so hooked, I nearly embarrassed myself by licking my plate in front of everyone. After that night of greedy inappropriateness, I felt inspired to tread out on my own and come up with my own version.
For this fiskegrateng recipe, I used cod and green peas because cod is a more budget friendly and traditionally eaten fish in Norway. Yes, Norwegians eat salmon often and it can be great in this recipe too, but in Norway, white fish – usually cod – is king. Also, for this recipe, I’ve used a cheese sauce instead of a béchamel sauce because well, Jarlsberg simply makes things taste good (and we all know us Americans LOVE our mac n’ cheese . . .not me mind you but I know nearly all of the remaining 300 million of you love mac n’ cheese).
Finally, I’ve made mine with regular macaroni, but if you are watching your carb intake (and who isn’t these days!), try using whole-wheat macaroni instead. A word to the wise, go easy on the nutmeg if you are using the freshly ground stuff (and by fresh I mean shaved with a Microplane blade or ground in a spice grinder just before added to the sauce). A little goes a long way – and you just need a pinch to give your cheese sauce that “hummmm….what is that” kick.
Consider this a great weekday dinner for a family or something easy to bring to a potluck dinner.
- 250g (about 2 cups) macaroni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 400 ml (1½ cups) milk
- 100g (1 cup) Jarlsberg cheese, grated
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
- salt and pepper to taste
- 400g (ca. 1 ¼ lbs) deboned cod filet, skinned and cut into small cubes (uncooked)
- 125g (about 1 cup) green peas
- 125g (1 cup) dried breadcrumbs
- Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. Be careful to not over cook the pasta as it will cook again in the oven and you do not want the final result to be mushy.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/390F.
- To make the cheese sauce, slowly melt the butter in a medium sized pot. Once the butter is just about melted, whisk in the flour until a paste forms. Allow the paste to cook for a minute or two, then add in your milk and whisk until smooth. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it begins to thicken slightly.
- Next, place a small handful of the cheese into the sauce and stir. Allow the cheese to melt a bit, stir and add in more cheese. Continue this pattern until all of the cheese is melted and well incorporated into a smooth sauce.
- Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and allow to cool for 5 mins while you assemble the dish.
- To assemble the dish, add the macaroni to a baking dish, then layer in the peas and fish. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
- Serve with grated carrots, a side salad or boiled potatoes.