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World's Strangest National Dishes

Lutefisk

Matt Carlson

Lutefisk, Norway

This traditional Norwegian dish is made from air-dried or salted whitefish and lye, the corrosive alkaline used in oven cleaners and drain openers. The trick to making a decent lutefisk is to incubate the fish in the lye solution for just the right amount of time that the fish fats don’t turn into soap. It’s ready when it has a jelly-like consistency—and smells awful. In 2008, more than 3,000 tons of lutefisk were snatched from Norwegian shelves.

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