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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Norwegian Salmon All Ways

One of Many Smørbrød
Meaty, juicy, fatty, and fresh, Norwegian salmon is unarguably one of the best-quality fish around. On a recent trip to Norway, one of my culinary goals was to eat salmon any way and every way I could. Years of watching New Scandinavian Cooking prepared me to read the menus to target the dried, steamed, grilled, and baked dishes. I started out with my hotel breakfast. It included a large selection of fish. Salmon was lined up with mackerel and sardines. When I went out, Norwegian salmon was on the menu as big hearty main courses and light snacks to hold me over to the next meal. There was no shortage of salmon in Norway!
  • Cured: Gravlax
    I had gravlax on many occasions with breakfast and on Smørbrød (open-faced sandwiches). This salt/sugar cured salmon with the fresh taste of dill went well with the yolky fried egg or on top of crunchy bread with arugula, cucumbers and juicy tomatoes.
  • Smoked: Thinly-Sliced Salmon
    This salmon was so fatty and delicious it melted on my tongue. It had a mellow smoke and saltiness.
  • Roe: Salmon Eggs
    This counts right? Salty and delicious, roe went well on top of sandwiches. I found roe in lots of my snacks.
  • Baked: Plain My first morning I grabbed a piece of flaky, rosy, delicious baked salmon. The seasoning was light, if at all, but the flavor was rich and delicious.
  • Baked: Salmon in a butter, mustard and mussel reduction
    At a second visit to the very cozy underground pub Bryggkjeller'n of Brygghus 9. We went specifically for dinner. After perusing the menu the night before, we had to come back. Lucky for me, and my salmon search, the fish dish that night was salmon. The fresh and meaty salmon went well with the meaty and salty mussels. The creamy, buttery sauce made this fish melt in my mouth. It was peppery too, but the fish wasn't eclipsed by the pepper spice. It was served over a crisp fresh carrot, celeriac, and celery coleslaw with a side of roasted potatoes. 
  • Steamed: Salmon with Pepper and Lemon
    The steamed fish was so tender and light. The lemon freshened it up and the pepper spiced it up. The meaty dish was hearty, flavorful, and creamy. It went well with the mashed potatoes.
  • Rillettes: Shredded Salmon Paste
    This creamy mixture of smoked and fresh salmon was delicate and flavorful. The onion and capers melted well with the fish. It spread easily on the dark rye and paired well with crisp mixed greens.

I didn't just stop at the salmon though. I hit a couple of other traditional dish goals.
  • Dried Cod: Bacalao
    For my first dinner in Norway, I visited a Trondhjem Mikrobyggeri. The menu had a listing of burgers and pulled pork. Giant salads and sandwiches. Among the listing, I spotted bacalao. The rich stew came to me. Rich tomato stew with hearty chunks of cod and thick slices potatoes. The onion and spices were a savory delight. As the sun went down and the weather cooled, the dish was warming and comforting. I couldn't stop eating it. I grabbed bites of tender pulled pork and juicy burger from my travel companions, but I kept coming back to my bacalao. After a long flight and a long day, it hit the spot. It was the perfect dish to welcome me to Norway! And the beer was fantastic too!
  • Fried Cod: Standard Fried Cod
    This quick bite was served with fresh shredded carrots, roasted potatoes, and a tartar sauce that was actually good! The fish was flaky and tasty. The breading was crisp and good. Not greasy, not thick with breading, not dried out. It was the perfect fried cod.
  • Fiskeboller: Fish Balls
    Yes, this was on my list. Thank you Andreas Viestad and your Bergen episode! I had these white dumplings of sorts in Stavenger, but they were just as good. Interesting anyway. The fish was mixed into a very smooth paste, so they were nice and creamy. The fish taste was light, not overpowering in the least. It was served with a really light gravy of sorts. It all went well with the boiled potatoes.
  • Potet Klub: Potato Dumplings
    These giant dumplings were rich, filling and hard to stop eating. It was served with some gravy along-side a frankfurter-type sausage and a slice of roast ham. It was an extra nice surprise to find a pile of crisp bacon crumbled under the dumpling! I didn't even clear half of my plate, but I did manage to eat 3/4 of my potet klub!
  • Risengryn Grod: Rice Pudding
    When I saw them scooping this out, I thought it was oatmeal. I make a mean bowl of oatmeal, but it's not my favorite. When I saw them putting sugar and cinnamon on it, and the excited look on their faces, I asked for a bowl. What I got was a rich, silky rice pudding with vanilla sugar, a couple of pats of butter, and a healthy coating of cinnamon. It was heaven. I was told this was a typical Saturday dinner or made on special occasions. Sign me up!
Hearty Bacalao

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