The start of the Skrei season was celebrated at the Norwegian ambassador's residence in Kensington, London last night at a dinner hosted by Michel Roux Jnr.
The menu - devised by Roux Jnr and chef-proprietor of the Elephant restaurant, Simon Hulstone - paid homage to the Norwegian delicacy. The migratory cod completes an annual journey of thousands of miles, from the Barents Sea arriving at Norway's Lofoten Islands; where it is caught in its prime and in perfect condition.
"We have served Skrei on the menu at Le Gavroche for two years now," said Roux Jnr.
"Skrei is a seasonal fish and we are reliant on the seasons as chefs for our inspiration. But Skrei is not just an ordinary cod; it's something special, the flesh is so white and firm and lean, and it flakes beautifully."
Hundreds of millions of Norwegian cod migrate each year, yet only a small percentage of all landed cod will be branded with the special Skrei tag, which acts as a seal of approval and quality assurance, on its dorsal fin.
Roux Jnr, who introduced the dinner and the dishes cooked by Hulstone, added: "As a chef I always insist on the finest ingredients and Skrei never disappoints. I am proud and honoured to be an ambassador for what I consider to be one of the finest products of the sea."
The menu included a starter (pictured above) of poached Skrei tongues and a croquette of salted Skrei served on braised celeriac and parsley with horseradish buttermilk; and a main (pictured below) of fillet of Skrei with roasted wild mushrooms, smoked eel, braised pig's cheek and roasted Jerusalem artichoke in a red wine bourguignon sauce.
"The tongue of the Skrei cod is a bonus piece of meat," added Hulstone. "And the main is my play on a traditional bourguignon, with the pig cheeks from my farm at the Elephant."
Dessert was a vanilla rice pudding with poached Yorkshire rhubarb, lemon verbena crème and warm madeleines.
Jack-Robert Moller, UK director for the Norwegian Seafood Council, explained: "Skrei season is always a very exciting time of year for everyone in Norway and the fishing tradition goes back thousands of years.
"Skrei has a beautiful story and we are seeing a huge growth in its popularity across Europe year-on-year and we are delighted to share this much-loved delicacy with the UK's best restaurants."
Fishing is a way of life for many Norwegians and each year the annual migration is met with great excitement and celebration. No fish that are caught are wasted; as Norway banned discards over 27 years ago. Norway has the largest cod fishery in the world.
Skrei is only available between January and April. For details visit www.seafoodfromnorway.co.uk