SAMPLING A SCANDINAVIAN DELICACY ON A TRIP TO NORWAY
socks that our hosts, the fish factory’s owners - sisters Unni Lorentzen and Torbj0rg Lindquist, and Unni’s husband, Trond Lorentzen – have warmed on the radiator for us, we settle down to a meal of skrei m0lje, a traditional Norwegian dish that uses every available morsel of the cod.
Served with amber glasses of aquavit, we start with corrugated curls of butter on brittle, nutty crackerbreads before being presented with wedges of barely grainy, pale pink skrei roe. Roux explains that “the pinker the roe, the more shrimp the cod must have eaten – just like flamingos”.
There’s also steamed, skinless potatoes and the cod flesh itself, poached, luminous white and flaking succulently at the slightest nudge of a fork – we liberally grind over fresh black pepper and sprinkle on finely chopped raw white onion.
A tray of stuffed cod stomach, gelatinous with a slightly spongy crust with a rubbery wobble to it, prompts Unni to admit: “The flavour, if you have not tried before, is...”, at which point her sister finishes with a laugh, “Interesting!”
“Go on – be brave,” Roux says, passing the platter, and well, it’s not totally unpleasant, although a little chewy.
A fragrant bowl of skrei liver appears, greyish blobs of it floating lightly in an oily liquor. I’m sceptical again, but people heave huge dollops of the stuff onto their plates. “The best way to eat it, if you’re nervous, is to squash a potato, add a bit of pepper, and mix the liver in like butter – it melts,” Roux tells me – and he’s right, it dissolves into a rich, umami dressing that’s not fishy at all.
“It’s so, so simple, and the fish is so clean,” says Roux. “When it’s this fresh, nothing is so good.”