Northern waters are still teeming with fish, even if it’s not as it used to be. Overfishing of certain species is a threat to the sustainability of marine life, with the cold waters being more fragile than warm seas, and restrictions are being made on the most popular fish, such as cod, herring and salmon.
This brings in new species to try, and for the adventurous it’s a thrill to eat strange-looking creatures from the deep with eyes like huge silver coins, dressed in spikes and thorns.
These days, Scandinavian fish lovers are beginning to eat more humble fish, as the most popular types become more expensive. Chefs are doing their best to introduce new fish, showing Scandinavians how to cook them, because even if people in the north eat lots of fish, most of them stubbornly cling to the well-known ones, despite other fish being just as delicious.
Garfish, shark, Norwegian haddock, whiting, ling, forkbeard, smelt, witch, dab and Pollack are slowly becoming household names. Even die-hard traditions are challenged – new fatty fish are being cured, smoked and pickled, which is a solace to people in other parts of the world who want to try Nordic ways of preparing fish, using their local varieties.
As long as you replace them with a similar species: fatty or lean meat, dense flesh or flaky, the result will be successful. And it’s also a necessary challenge to find new ways with fish. Even if there are fine tradition of fish cookery in the north, the people there need to reinvent: crisper skin, less overcooking and more spice.
Fresh Fish in Scandinavia, written by Tor Kjolberg