Norwegian Fjord Trout: From farm to plate with NORGE Seafood from Norway

The  Staff Canteen

What better way to get top UK chefs to come and take a look at Norwegian Fjord Trout than offering them a trip to Norway to see it for themselves?

That’s exactly what NORGE Seafood from Norway did and they took The Staff Canteen along for the ride – we never thought we’d be stood on a trout cage in the middle of a Norwegian fjord with Casamia’s Peter Sanchez and Bob Bob Ricard’s Anna Haugh, but that happened!

Norwegian Fjord Trout - the hatchery

Norwegian Fjord Trout 

hatchery in Bjørsvik

The trout farmed in Norway is steelhead trout and the meat has a deep red-orange colour. It is a niche product with a low production level—around 1/20 of the total production of salmon.

We followed the trout step by step on its journey to your plate. So, let’s start at the beginning, with the chefs and other food industry professionals in the hatchery in Bjørsvik, here the tiny trout are reared in pure glacier water until they are large enough to be transported.

On the trip was Duncan Garland, Rhubarb Catering; Anna Hansen, The Modern Pantry; Peter Sanchez, Casamia; Josh Green Casamia Development Chef; Alex Barnes, Westminster Kingsway College Student – winner of 2016 Fjord Trout recipe development competition; Anna Haugh, Bob Bob Ricard and David Hussey, Sodexo Chef of the Year.

Alongside the other chefs on the trip was Daniel Galmiche, an ambassador for Fjord trout and a Michelin-starred chef who is currently based at The Gore Hotel in London.

He said: “As chefs, we are looking for the bets produce possible and if, for example, Fjord trout is the best in Norway I’ll get it from there. The produce is really good, I love the quality, the texture, the nuttiness, the consistency and the way the fish are looked after – that’s very important.

“I’ve been an ambassador for three years, this is the first trip we’ve organised for the Fjord trout as they are normally seasonal and focused on the Skrei. The trout, if you like it and want to work with it, you can get it all year round and adapt with the seasons to be able to use it on your menu.”

He added: “The chefs we’ve brought with us may not all use it on a permanent basis but they may have an idea for a dish

Norwegian Fjord
Midtflua Fjord Trout farm

depending on the season, so for example in autumn they may use it with beetroot. They can now go away and play with it – we don’t say they have to use it if they want to come on the trip, it’s not about that, it’s about learning about produce and discovering it.”

Once they are the right size, 80 grammes to be exact, the trout are shipped to one of the fjord cages, which are 25 meters deep, where they stay for around 12 to 18 months.

These cages are specially designed and hold 180,000 fish at any one time, the farm we visited had six cages and we were told there can be a million fish at that site.

The fjords are a combination of sweet meltwater and salty seawater, and despite the huge number of fish in the cages, there are just 2.5 percent fish to water within them. You couldn’t pick a more stunning location to visit these trout, crystal clear water which stretches for miles and is surrounded by the mountainous shoreline.

Peter Sanchez, chef-owner of Michelin-starred Casamia, had never been to a fjord before and found it interesting to see a farmed fish in such a beautiful location. He said: “As a chef, you want to understand the products you use and how it lived. This is a very advanced way of farming and it’s the future.”

Peter Sanchez, Casamia

Josh Green and

Peter Sanchez, Casamia

He added: “We have freshwater trout in the UK but it’s a very different product and I think if I was looking to do something like sashimi I’d use the Fjord trout. But it comes down the miles it travels and whether it’s going to be of the same quality as when the chefs receive it here in Norway.”

There are 75,000 tonnes of Norwegian Fjord Trout shipped worldwide each year with the main markets being Scandinavia, North America and Japan – its popularity is also growing in the UK. The harvest of the trout is four years in the planning so each stage has to be meticulously organised. Once the fish are of an average size of 4-6kg they are transported from the fjord by boat and then delivered to the slaughtering plant.

We took a look around the plant at Brandasund, the fish are pumped from the water based cages into the factory where they are stunned and then cut by hand. The plant can gut 130 tonnes of fish a day and in 2016 they slaughtered 33,000 tonnes of trout.

“I don’t know what I was expecting,” explained The Modern Pantry’s Anna Hansen. “But I was surprised all along the way. The numbers were mind-boggling, to hear how much trout is produced and we only saw a fraction. It’s scary, when you add that to the salmon numbers and that’s only two species, how much fish we consume! But, it is amazing to learn that it’s done so sustainably.”

She added: “It was interesting to understand every minute of that fish’s journey to the plate and encouraging to see everything being taken care of so well.

“We use Direct Seafood which can supply the Fjord trout so I’m going to order some and see if it shows up as nicely as what we saw being packed ready for shipping.”

This may be the end of the line for live trout but the process doesn’t stop here. Although many are packed whole, frozen or filleted and shipped to customers direct from the plant others find their way to one of the smokehouses. We visited Lerøy Fossen, a smokehouse and processing facility for fjord trout. Inside we got an insight into how the fish is smoked and finally packed ready for delivery.

Norwegian Fjord Trout

chef Fredrick Hald, Product

Development Manager for Lerøy

for Lerøy

After seeing the entire process one of the key elements of the trip is to let the chefs loose on the produce at Norrona Kitchen.

They were joined by chef Fredrick Hald, Product Development Manager for Lerøy, who demonstrated a few dishes he uses fjord trout for and then it was their turn. Seafood from Norway doesn’t just supply fjord trout so they had a great larder for the chefs to choose from including king crab and scallops.

David Hussey, won a place on the trip as part of his prize for winning Sodexo Chef of the Year, he had to cook a dish using fjord trout and says ‘it was really interesting to see the full process’ as he already cooks with the fish.

“I didn’t realise how well looked after they are, the detail in that and how technical the process is,” he said. “I do use as much British produce as I can but at the moment it fills a gap in the market as a product we can’t get in the UK. I’ll continue to use it because I think it’s good, I like the fat content and the flavour.”

He added: “It was great to work with all the chefs in the kitchen – chefs are quite competitive and although it was friendly there was plenty of banter going on! The quality of the fish and seafood was fantastic.”

I think everyone on the trip would agree they learnt something new, and all of the chefs were in agreement that it’s a great way to get a product in front of them and more importantly thinking about adding it to their menu.

For more information on Norwegian Fjord Trout click here 

By Cara Houchen

@canteencara

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th May 2017

Norwegian Fjord Trout: From farm to plate with NORGE Seafood from Norway