Scandinavian Garfish

Scandinavian Garfish

Garfish (belone belone) come to the Scandinavian shores in May, and are a very popular angling fish as they put up a good fight. They are one of the few true seasonal treats, in their short spring season, and again in August, when they return to deeper waters.

They’re the favorite fish for many Scandinavians; the flesh is very loose when raw, but becomes meaty and delicious when fried.

Scandinavian Garfish

Appearance and taste
Garfish are wondrous creatures. When their long and slender bodies, which dart through the waters like liquid silver, they are hard to mistake for any other fish. The long beak is full of razor-sharp teeth and the bones are eerily green, which has led to much superstition about the garfish’s eating habits, but they are quite harmless.

Scandinavian Garfish
Garfish bones

Garfish usually reach about one meter in length yet weight less than 1kg. Their meat tastes more like veal than fish.

Scandinavian Garfish
North Sea, Skagerak and Kattegat

Buying and storing
Garfish are best when they are boned, when the meat cam be cut into squares and is easy to handle. But you must ask the fishmonger to do it, as it’s rather difficult to do it yourself. The alternative is to cut them into chunks and fry them on the bone, like an eel. Un Denmark there are special boning machines for garfish, but these probably don’t exist anywhere else. One garfish should feed two people.

Scandinavian Garfish
Fried garfish

Culinary uses
Garfish come into their own when dusted with fine rye flour and fried in butter until crispy, which takes just a matter of a few minutes. Eat with new potatoes, cucumber and dill salad, and gooseberry compote with elderflowers. They are very good when barbecued. Garfish can also be soused like herrings, and this is a clever thing to do with leftover fried garfish.

Scandinavian Garfish, written by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): BBQ garfish

Fresh fish in Scandinavia


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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.