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Fish and Seafood delight from Norway

Walking on the dock of the bay near the Town Hall and Aker Brygge in Oslo the other day, I passed by a Seafood Fair. With my Nokia Mobile phone at hand, I was thinking this was an opportunity to tell my readers a bit about why seafood is an important part of the Norwegian diet. Let me give you an example from a stand at the fair before I go on (click pics to enlarge):

SeaFoodFairOslo2008 #2
How about a skewer with scallops, shrimps, salmon and clams?

One obvious reason why seafood is important in Norway is our long coastline. At least 80% of the population lives nearby the sea and fjords. In the old days when the Norway was rather poor, seafood was on the table almost 7 days a week and they felt very lucky to have a meat meal once in a while for Sunday dinner. When I was young, I remember we had fish for dinner at least once or twice a week: Cod, Mackerel, Atlantic Herring (often salted), Haddock or Pollock. I remember my mother’s fried Pollock with onion – it tasted like a good steak :-)

The second reason: Fish is third biggest export next to oil & gas (from the beginning of the 70s) and metal. Norwegian salmon and trout are well known all over the world, especially in North America, Asia and of course in Japan. Most of it is fresh fish, but some are preserved like smoked or Gravlax (cured in salt, sugar, and dill):

SeaFoodFairOslo2008 #6 SeaFoodFairOslo2008 #10
Left: Preserved Salmon vacuum packed. Right: Smoked Salmon sub.

What might surprise some though is that the essential ingredient of Bacalhau – salted dried codfish – comes from Norway (Bacalhau da Noruega):
SeaFoodFairOslo2008 #5

You might wonder why we make all this preserved type fish, but remember; Before refrigeration, there was a need to preserve the fish (as well as the meat); drying and salting are ancient techniques to keep many nutrients and the process makes it tastier. The same goes for the special Norwegian Rakfisk (fermented fish) and Lutefisk (lye fish) (click to read my post about both of them!)

Very ambivalent to it since I know some of my readers might have a special feeling for this, but it would be a fraud not to mention whale while talking about Norwegian Seafood traditions. Be aware of that we Norwegians are as much concerned about threatened and endangered species as the rest of the world. We are only talking about Rorqual whales (Balaenoptera) and official statistics tells there are 170 000 of them in the North Sea and there is a quota of hunting for only 800 per year:
SeaFoodFairOslo2008 #7
Fresh whale steaks costs NOK 145 pr. kilo (30 $ per 2.2 pound).

So now you know why seafood is so important to Norwegian and why I often post about it. It’s a very healthy food too you know. I wonder how often you eat seafood, what kind and if it sometimes might be fish from Norway?

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  1. We eat lots of seafood here. We are having seafood chowder for dinner tonight. So we love seafood very much too. I haven’t a clue if some of the seafood we eat comes from Norway. I hope it does. Have a great day. I’ve very hungry now looking at all your wonderful pictures. :)

    Great to hear Sandee – I knew we where two of a kind in many ways and I do hope your soup tasted well – glad I could give you an appetiser :)

  2. I just finished some broiled swordfish for dinner! I love fish, all kids! But then, I grew up in a fishing village on Cape Cod and raised with fish as a staple in our diet.

    Sounds yummy – although swordfish is not common in Norway – I’ll be right over!
    I knew we where to of a kind in this and you know I’ve been to Cape Cod and felt almost like home :-)

  3. Love seafood too! I bought fishes last Saturday who were so fresh that they were still moving! It was a good price: 10 euros per kilo for roc fishes to cook a delicious soup with toast and “rouille”: a marvellous sauce with garlic and safran.
    I love fishes but better to buy them to the fishers when they arrive from their fishing because Mediterranean fishes are more expensive than meat! so in the week I buy friezed fishes and sure a lot of them come from Norway! i always buy smoked salmon from Norway! These are the best!

    I knew a French girl like you living in your aria would love seafood too and your dinner sounds delicious – even with safran (woooow).
    I know fresh from the fisher man is the best, but we often use friezed too and of course its good to know you like smoked salmon from Norway :-)

  4. I don’t eat a lot of meat, not because I’m a vegetarian but by choice. I like meat in small quantity and I buy good meat then.

    I like seafood best. I grew up in Nantes, only 60 km from the sea. I like all kind of fish, although I’m not a huge fan of scallops, shrimps etc.

    Canada has some great salmon and I remember eating the best trout ever in lac Titicaca in Bolivia. Seafood to me equals markets (like the one you were at), the beach, light meals and delicious flavour.

    I do agree and think seafood is much lighter to digest.
    I know you French people are good with fish too and I do agree with you about the market and the atmosphere.

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  6. i did not grow up eating fish (except canned tuna) as my mother doesn’t really care for it. so i didn’t know how to cook it. it wasn’t until I moved to trinidad that i began learning. I became very fond of what they do with salted cod and i learned to stew fish. even after coming back to the US i made those dishes (the salt cod i get is usually from Canada). since my daughter declared herself a sort of vegetarian (though she is willing to eat fish) we have been having it much more often for her sake. I do like fish but i am still learning how to cook it properly in a variety of ways. I do experiment with new recipes and have found some we all enjoy. maybe i should come to Norway for some lessons ;)

    Well, its never too late and of course you could pick up some good recipe from my fish food post – there is a lot of ways you know and then you’ll find your personal style.
    Your always welcome – I’m sure we’ll have great fun in the kitchen sharing recipes and food ideas – a great mix from yours and mine different experience you know ;)

  7. As a local I wish we could have this kind of market every Day (may be not during the winter season).
    You know, we love Seafood. And have it at least 4 days a week. Anna’s father was a fish dealer in the very north of Norway (Vardö)

    Excellent post about Fish and Norwegians.

    Lets hope they open a permanent fish market in Oslo real soon – yea, I know you are seafood lovers too :-)
    Thanks for your compliments Tor!

  8. I enjoyed the way the food were displayed there and indeed the seafood looked so fresh and yummy.

    We have fish everyday…yep, everyday because it is healthy and also because my Mom in law cannot eat other meat too much. Other than that, it is of course the smoked salmon for my husband too :D

  9. I live on the South coast of England so the seafood is very good and we eat a lot of fish. My favourite local restaurants all specialize in seafood. We don’t have anything like your Seafood Fair though – only an Oyster Festival – and I really don’t like oysters!

  10. Has your seafood been tested for mercury? Are some fish safer than others? Yes, I love fish, but I don’t eat as much as I once did.

  11. Hei Renny! Det ser veldig bra ut! Jeg har bare en følelse av at jeg snart kommer hjem til Norge. Mens jeg ser på siden din nå tenkte jeg å bytte bildet på din overskrift og bakgrunnsbilde. Hva syns du om det?

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  13. Sea food looks delicious…and it really was since we had a good fish dinner tonight ;-) Would really like some of that salmon to make shishkebobs for the grill! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm now thats summer food!

  14. We’re not eating seafood that much actually. I know that you Norwegian is much mmore “fisherman’s breed” than we are in Sweden. Of natural causes since you have a better ocean to catch it from :-)

    We did eat Bacalau (advertised as from Nroway too) when we were in Portugal.

    Great post and photos as usual!

    Pssst. Note my changed emailaddress, very similar to the old one, but never the less changed!

  15. Thanks for commenting on my blog, Renny. I’m learning all the time something new about your Norwegian culture and about the fishes and the excellent seafood you have. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Hey RennyBA
    I noticed that you had the proper clothes for you trek on the Barents Sea.
    You remember, I lived on Kodiak Island for three years, and I ate seafood every day. King crab, shrimp, salmon, halibut and I dont know what else. I hate seafood unless it’s disguised into some british fish and chips or frozen fish sticks which we have in the US which are probably bad for you.

    I just ate enough to last a lifetime. I know I would eat if if I had to though.

    Sorry it took me so long to get here! Take care RennyBA!

  17. I adore seafood…especially salmon. But scallops are also a favourite, as are prawns, varieties of fish, oysters, etc. I can’t eat too much of crab and no crayfish or lobster at all…it seems my metabolism doesn’t take too kindly to crustaceans.

  18. Since I red about you seafood post, you gave me inspiration! Come and see one excellent south of France seafood!

    Thanks for the invite Claudie – The big bouillabaisse cooking and party was very impressive!

  19. It was only just in time that I discovered a reliable fish merchant on the market in Cazères. If it wouldn’t have been for this honest man delivering quality and freshness I was seriously considering coming over to eat some of the Norvegian seafood as you can describe it so lively! We had delicious gray shrimps and a slice of tuna fish so fresh we ate a part of it like sushi. My friend Titou is a genuine “Provençale” and she told me about Bouillabaisse being originally a poor people’s dish with fish leftovers. Anyway, very soon I hope she will share the original recipe on a video for my Happywoman blog. I’m gonna check out Claudie’s blog, very curious!
    Have a great day!

  20. Thans Rennyba for your reaction at my blog,
    This is also a good post I LOVE FRESH Fish the best they sell them here in Holland on the islands in the North, and in AMSTERDAM on the Albert CUYP Market, people come fro everyweher to buy that fresh fish…

    Bye have a good week! Greetings from DUTCH JoAnn

  21. Good overview of Norwegian fish-eating habits. I have always been intrigued by the ‘fermented fish’. Also, given how cold Norway is, I thought preserving should be easy (even without refrigeration!) :-)

    Thanks for the compliments – glad I could tempt you to try Rakfisk!
    Well, maybe you now understand that Norway is not a cold as once should think :-)

  22. Hey Renny,

    I love, I absolutely love smoked salmon!!! And I buy a lot of smoke salmon from Norway!
    About Bacalhau (this is a Portuguese word); we consume a lot of Norwegian Bacalhau; we even have a Bacalhau commercial that says “Viu, senhor? Vi, era da Noruega!” (Did you see it, Sir? Yes, it was from Norway!) – context: the master was eating his cod and robbers took everything in his dinning-room; so when his butler arrives and asks if he had seen the thugs, he answers that he could see that the cod was from Norway! lol


  23. I love your country !!! Me encanta tu blog y es una manera de conocer costumbres de su maravilloso pais. Gracias desde España

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