Which is why, for thousands of years, the hardy Norwegians who settled in this tough landscape have made fishing their livelihood.
This deep connection that Norwegian people have with the sea has driven Norway to become a world leader in sustainable fishing. They know it’s only when the fish are thriving that the people can thrive, and they understand the importance of protecting the sea’s resources for future generations to come.
One of these valuable resources is Skrei, a prized cod available from mid-January to mid April. Put simply, this is Norwegian cod in its prime. Skrei means ‘wanderer’, referring to the 1,000km journey this cod makes each year to spawn around the islands of Lofoten and Vesterålen. This epic swim through the rough Barents Sea is what gives the Skrei such a unique and delicate taste, and firm pearly white structure.
Skrei is seasonal and the catch is tightly monitored. Every Skrei is marked with its official seal that guarantees its maximum quality and freshness. It is also, of course, MSC certified as sustainable.
The annual arrival of Skrei cod has been cause for great celebration ever since the age of the Vikings, both for its nutritional and commercial values. The Norwegians learnt to preserve and use almost every part of this protein-rich seafood, catching and drying Skrei since Viking times and exporting it since 875AD. The climate in northern Norway allowed the Vikings to dry this protein-rich ‘white gold’, without salt, hanging them up in the wind in the early spring after their catch, and taking it on voyages as a source of nutrition and currency along their trade routes.
Indeed, Skrei provided the Vikings with enough protein to travel the vast distances by boat to became the first Europeans to discover the American continent. It also enabled the ancient Norse people to live far north in lands otherwise uninhabitable during the long and dark winters.
Skrei was considered so precious at one point in time, that fishermen were ordered to pay a Skrei tax to King Øystein I Magnusson (reigning period: 1088-1123). This tax meant each fisherman had to give the king five of these valuable fish, and it proved so lucrative it helped fund the build of Norwegian landmarks, including Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, the largest medieval building in Scandinavia.
Today, it is still considered a special species to seafood lovers all over the world. Since its introduction to the UK in 2012, Skrei has been swept up by our finest chefs, including chef ambassador Michel Roux Jr, Simon Hulstone and Daniel Galmiche who have all served Skrei in season at their Michelin-starred restaurants. Even Monica Galetti, Glynn Purnell and Robin Gill have ventured out of their kitchens to Norway to catch and eat Skrei right at its source.
“As a chef, I am always looking for exceptional ingredients. Skrei cod is one of those that never lets me down,” says Michel Roux Jr, chef-patron at Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. “Skrei is so versatile and that’s why I love cooking with it.
“Whether it’s a French classic or a more contemporary dish, its quality always shines through.”
Speak to your supplier about Skrei or visit skrei.com
Poached Skrei, cauliflower purée and pickled radishes
Exclusive recipe from Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr
4 Norwegian Skrei fillets (deboned and skinned)
1 ltr milk
1 tbsp salt
To prepare the curry-infused oil:
100ml rapeseed oil
1 tsp curry powder
To prepare the pickled radishes (which will fill a ½ litre jar):
1 bunch radishes
Pinch of mustard seeds
2 crushed black peppercorns
200ml white wine vinegar
2 tsp fine salt
3 tbsp honey
To prepare the roasted cauliflower:
150g large cauliflower florets
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of chilli powder
To prepare the cauliflower purée:
Drizzle of olive oil
400g cauliflower florets
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp extra thick double cream
Zest of half a lemon
Coriander cress for dressing
Salt and pepper
(The pickled radishes and infused oil can be prepared days beforehand and stored in sterile jars)
► Place the oil in a saucepan and gently heat to 60°C. Stir in the curry powder and cover the pan with cling film. Set aside to infuse for two hours.
► Rinse and trim the radishes. Slice finely or, for extra crunch, quarter. Place in ½ litre jar with mustard seeds and peppercorns.
► Bring the water, vinegar, salt and honey to the boil in a pan. Once at a rolling boil, pour into the jar of radishes. Cool to room temperature before using.
► Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the cauliflower florets in a bowl. Combine with the oil, chilli powder and a pinch of salt. Spread onto a baking tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until charred.
► For the purée, put olive oil in a pan over a medium heat.
►Sweat the cauliflower for 2 minutes, add the curry powder and garlic, and sear for a further 2 minutes. Add the milk and simmerfor 10 minutes until tender and ¾ of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a blender and purée with butter and cream. Once silky smooth, season with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
► For the fish, pour the milk into a pan and season with salt. Place over a gentle heat. Once simmering, delicately add the Skrei and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the fish from the milk and serve immediately with the purée and cauliflower. Garnish with pickled radishes and herbs.