There is a special type of cod making its way to fine dining restaurants across the UK this winter. Caught straight from the cold, clear waters of Norway’s beautiful Lofoten Islands, SKREI® is of exceptional quality and a much loved Norwegian delicacy. Only available between January and April each year, SKREI® is a migratory cod, which journeys thousands of miles annually from the Barents Sea to the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway to reproduce. Thanks to this epic journey through icy, dark waters, SKREI® has a lean, translucent firm flesh and is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, which makes it a hugely versatile, healthy and wholesome food, caught in its prime and in perfect condition.
Only the very best of this migratory cod qualifies for the SKREI® branding, having to meet stringent quality standards. SKREI® has already received high-end acclaim from top chefs, including Michel Roux Jr. and Simon Hulstone, who are both serving SKREI® at their Michelin-star restaurants this season.
WHAT MAKES SKREI® SPECIAL?
The Norwegians pride themselves on the quality of their fish and the annual SKREI® migration is no exception. Fishing is a way of life for many Norwegians and each year, this annual phenomenon is met with great excitement and celebration. SKREI® is such a revered product in Norway that it has its own grading standard. Hundreds of millions of Norwegian cod migrate each year back to its spawning ground of Lofoten, yet only a small percentage of all landed cod will be branded with the special SKREI® tag, which acts almost like a seal of approval or quality assurance, on its dorsal fin.
To be classified as SKREI® the fish needs to be:
• Caught fully grown - as a large mature cod before it has spawned (approx. five years old)
• The skin needs to be immaculate, with no scratches, bruising or injuries – the fish must look as good as it tastes
• Packaged within 12 hours of being caught
• Stored on ice at a temperature between 0° and 4° Celsius
• Whole, fresh SKREI® is required to have the SKREI® brand fastened to the forward dorsal fin and put in a branded SKREI® box.
A FOODIE PERSPECTIVE
SKREI® has firm flesh, with obvious fat lines defining the large bright white flakes which melt away during cooking. The fish can be prepared in a variety of ways and can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Delicious as a ceviche; firm textured and sweet, or try just lightly curing it and serving thinly sliced with olive oil, lemon, dill and sea salt as a mouth-watering starter.
For a main course, why not try brining some of the loin, then roasting and serving with a little braised fennel and anchovy. With such a delicate, yet full flavour to the meat, the fish can be served simply, with nothing more. After just a short time in the oven, the muscle and fat between the flakes will melt away and you can just push each one off with your fork.
For a more traditional approach, serve SKREI® simply with boiled potatoes and steamed carrots – letting all the flavours of the fish do the talking.
A NORWEGIAN LEGACY
Fishing is a way of life for the Norwegian community, with the SKREI® harvest an annual celebration amongst the generations. The coastline of the Lofoten Islands – where most of the SKREI® fishing takes place - comes alive each year with the buzz of excitement that the SKREI® season brings. Only the very best of the Norwegian cod catch will be labelled as SKREI®, however no fish that are caught are wasted; an exemplary example of the Norwegian fisheries management system - Norway banned discards over 26 years ago. The majority of SKREI® are caught from small in-shore vessels to ensure the quality of the fish is kept in the finest of conditions.
Norwegian fishing is a perfect example of man working closely with the environment - all Norwegian cod and haddock is MSC certified and the Barents Sea provides Norwegians with the largest growing cod stock in the world. In fact, 2013 saw the largest ever cod quota, rising by 33% and set at 1,000,000 tonnes, with quotas remaining strong this year too at 894.000 tonnes.
SKREI® is available to enjoy at over one hundred Michelin-star and fine dining restaurants in London and across the UK.