To introduce Skrei to American chefs, the Norwegian Seafood Council invited Chef Espen Larsen—instructor at the Norwegian Culinary Academy—to lead an immersive demonstration. For over 20 years, Chef Larsen has looked forward to each Skrei season’s opportunity to work with the world’s most-premium cod.
Chef Larsen shared a brief history of Skrei while demonstrating how to break down the fish and use different parts in traditional Nordic preparations.
“Skrei is a special migratory cod that’s available from beginning of January until the middle of April,” said Sol Park, Skrei importer for Hallvard Leroy USA. “Exclusive to Norway, it swims across the roughest part of the sea, [strengthening] the muscle and improving the quality.”
According to Larsen, “Skrei could only come from Norway. The difference between Skrei and cod is the journey the fish makes to Norway’s coast. Only the strongest cod become Skrei.”
Of over 400 million Norwegian cod that migrate each year, only around 10% of those caught qualify for Skrei branding while 90% return to their homes in the Barents Sea.
The chefs on hand were also able to develop their own dishes to present to the class. Here’s what the chefs had to say after working with Skrei:
“I think Skrei is great. It’s a real quality product. I think it has a great story. It’s got a real nice texture and a clean flavor. … And you can really use every part of the fish—the skin, the tripe, swimming bladder, the liver, the roe, the loin, the belly meat. You can do so much different stuff with it that you can’t really do with every kind of fish.” —David Seigal, NSC Culinary Board member and Chef of Cull & Pistol in NYC
“To work with Skrei has been a really enjoyable experience. It’s very buttery, has a nice texture. Skrei is bigger than a regular cod and has a stronger bone, which it makes it a lot of fun to work with.” —Roberth Sundell, NSC Culinary Board member and chef/owner of Pläj in San Francisco.
“The Skrei is a really beautiful fish. I’ve never had the chance to work with it because it’s so rare … it seems very luxurious. It’s obviously very fresh, very delicate.” —Ian Boothman, current chef de cuisine of Sbraga in Philadelphia
“It’s just fun working with a product that you don’t have to do much to. The less you do with something that’s as nice as the Skrei, the better,” said Larry Anderson, NSC Culinary Board member and chef/owner of Tre Kronor.