Norwegian Skrei with buttered leeks, lentils, kale & pumpkin seeds

A beautiful dish, simple to prepare
A beautiful dish, simple to prepare

Caught straight from the cold, clear waters of northern Norway every year between January and April, Skrei is much loved Norwegian delicacy. It is increasingly used by many of the UK’s best chefs, including Michel Roux Jr. who says, “Skrei is a versatile ingredient with lean, firm white flesh that lends itself to both modern and classic dishes. The biggest inspiration for me as a chef is seasonality, and that includes the forthcoming Skrei season”.

Norwegian trawler seeking Skrei
Norwegian trawler seeking Skrei

The fish has firm flesh, with obvious fat lines defining the large bright white flakes which melt away during cooking. The fish can be prepared in a variety of ways and eaten both raw and cooked. Delicious as a ceviche; firm textured and sweet, or try just lightly curing it and serving thinly sliced with olive oil, lemon, dill and sea salt as a mouth-watering starter.

For a main course, why not try brining some of the loin, then roasting and serving with a little braised fennel and anchovy. With such a delicate, yet full flavour to the meat, the fish can be served simply, with nothing more. After just a short time in the oven, the muscle and fat between the flakes will melt away and you can just push each one off with your fork.

For a more traditional approach, serve Skrei simply with boiled potatoes and steamed carrots – letting all the flavours of the fish do the talking. And if you are feeling adventurous, the classic way to prepare Norwegian Skrei is called “Mølje,” which is a simple, popular dish. To prepare this dish, in separate pots, poach the fish, liver and roe in lightly salted water; then serve with boiled potatoes. Skrei tongue and roe are thought to be a prized delicacy.

Serves 4   20-40 minutes, easy to make

Skrei, a Norwegian delicacy
Skrei, a Norwegian delicacy

Michel’s top tip for pan-frying Skrei is make sure the fish is dry and the pan very hot. Add a little vegetable oil to the pan and carefully place the seasoned fish in the pan. Once lightly seared, add lots of butter and baste with frothy bubbling butter. To test if cooked use a skewer, it should go through the fish easily” 4 Norwegian Skrei fillets

250g puy lentils
150g kale
2 leeks
100 g butter, unsalted
tbsp oil
lime juice
pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper
12 baby carrots, to serve

Cook lentils in boiling water until al dente.

Meanwhile chop the leeks into 5mm discs, melt the butter in a medium sized pan and add the leeks. Slowly cook until soft, for about 10-15 minutes. Keep warm.

Wash and chop the kale. Remove a couple of spoonfuls of the leek butter and set aside as garnish for the end. Add the kale to the rest of the leek butter and gently toss until the kale is coated in the butter and leeks, keeping warm over a low heat.

Drain the puy lentils from their cooking liquid and add them to the kale and leek butter, toss a few times then season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime to taste. Set aside and keep warm while you cook the Skrei.

Next, drizzle a spoonful of vegetable oil into a large pan. Heat until the oil sizzles.

Pat the Skrei skin dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place the fish fillets skin side down in the hot oil. Add a knob or two of butter and baste the fish if you want to try Michel’s top tip.

Depending on how thick the fillets are you’ll need to pan fry them for about 5-8 minutes until the flesh of the Skrei is nearly completely opaque in colour.

Using a spatula, carefully turn the fish over and finish cooking for a minute or so. Squeeze a little lime juice on the fish.

Divide the puy lentil, kale and buttered leeks between each plate.

Place the four fillets of Skrei on top of the lentils along with a small spoonful of the leeks and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds before serving with steamed vegetables such as baby carrots.


Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.

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