Feb 062014

In December I was invited to a seafood cookery class hosted by my friend Signe Johansen (blogger, food writer and food anthropologist) on behalf of the Norwegian Seafood Council, to showcase the quality of Norwegian seafood and share some ideas for how to make the most of it. Having cooked several different dishes with the skrei they sent me last year – miso marinated cod, fish and egg pie, fish and chips and a cod and chive dish, I was keen to try some of the other seafood available.

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Signe and Hannah (her sous chef for the class)

Sig’s menu included prawn and crisp bread canapés, smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraiche, beetroot and pickled cucumbers, some deep fried cod fritters, a warming Norwegian seafood soup and a fantastic rice pudding with whipped cream and berry compote. There was warming gløgg too!

The recipe I’m sharing below is for the seafood soup, which Sig called a Norwegian chowder, in recognition of the American side of her family background. Unlike the American chowders I’ve had, it’s not thick – the soup is broth-like in consistency – but it does have a great depth of flavour and plenty of richness from the cream. Sig recommends serving with crisp bread but I enjoyed it with regular white bread to soak up the liquid.

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Signe’s Norwegian Fish Soup

Serves 6-7 as a starter, 3-4 as a main

For the chowder base
200g Norwegian cold water cooked prawns, shell on
1 small onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 small fennel, finely diced (keep the fronds for garnish)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
2 litres fish stock
2 star anise
2 parsley stalks
2 threads saffron
5 allspice berries
For the soup
500g Norwegian salmon, sliced into bite-size chunks
300g cooked new potatoes, sliced in half
300ml double cream
100ml good cooking brandy
1 large leek, thinly sliced
Chives for garnish
300ml crème fraîche to garnish at the end (optional)
Salmon roe to garnish (optional)

Note: We didn’t have any prawns on the day, so these were omitted (which meant we didn’t need to strain the stock-flavouring vegetables out). We used a mix of salmon and other fish. We didn’t garnish with crème fraiche or salmon roe.


  • Start by making the chowder base. Sauté the onion, carrot and fennel in a skillet or frying pan over a low heat until soft and translucent. This should take about 5-10 minutes depending on the pan.
  • Peel the prawns and keep the shells, adding the latter to the pan with the sautéed vegetables and fry for about 5 minutes (keep the prawns to one side to add as garnish to the chowder).
  • Transfer this mixture over to a medium-large saucepan along with the fish stock, allspice berries, star anise, parsley stalks, bay leaf and saffron. Simmer for 30 minutes until the stock turns a pale orange from the shells and saffron, and then sieve the stock into a slightly smaller saucepan. Throw away the prawn shells and other flavourings, as you don’t need these anymore.
  • Flambé the brandy or cook off the alcohol in a small saucepan and add this to the stock. Boil this soup base until it has reduced by half; if the base tastes bland at this stage, keep reducing until the flavour takes on a concentrated seafood note. Every fish stock is different, so judge to your taste.
  • Meanwhile sauté the leek in a little butter until soft and add to the stock, along with the double cream. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add all the salmon. Allow to cook for a further 3-5 minutes until the fish is pale pink and opaque.
  • Adjust the seasoning if necessary then add the cooked, sliced new potatoes, the prawns and serve while warm with a chive, fennel frond and salmon roe garnish. Rye bread complements this tasty chowder perfectly and a dollop of crème fraîche is an indulgent optional topping.

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Kavey Eats attended this cookery class as a guest of the Norwegian Seafood Council.


Burren Smokehouse are one of the wonderful Irish producers I met at Dublin’s Bloom In The Park last year.

Burren Smokehouse
Birgitta Curtin of Burren Smokehouse

This family business was set up by Birgitta & Peter Curtin back in 1989 and takes the best from the smoking traditions of both Ireland and Sweden to produce a high quality Irish product. Their salmon is sourced from Irish fish farms on the Atlantic coast. Once it arrives it is checked for quality, filleted, salted with pure sea salt to cure and then cold or hot smoked in oak smoke. Finally it’s vacuum-packed to maximise shelf-life.

It’s a quality product and tastes fabulous. I tried a number of the Burren products at Bloom and found them all excellent.

Burren Organic Salmon cropped



Burren Smokehouse have generously offered a side of Irish organic smoked salmon, worth approximately £50, to one lucky Kavey Eats reader. The prize includes free delivery anywhere in the UK and Republic of Ireland.



You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite accompaniments to serve with smoked salmon.

Entry 2 – Facebook

Like the Kavey Eats Facebook and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win Burren Smokehouse products from Kavey Eats and @BurrenSalmon! http://goo.gl/Qos4K #KaveyEatsBurren
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the hashtag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!”)



  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 29th March 2013.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • The prize is a side of Burren Smokehouse Irish organic smoked salmon and includes free delivery anywhere in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Burren Smokehouse.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a sample of smoked salmon from Burren Smokehouse.

The winner for this competition was Rocky (Wildfood).


Last month, I was invited to help the ETM Group judge their annual chefs competition, in which they invite all the chefs working in any of their restaurants to submit their best dish using wild Scottish salmon from Cruden Bay. Owners Tom and Ed Martin had already narrowed down the entries to 6, to be cooked by their creators for us to judge and choose a winner.

My fellow judges were Tom Martin, Andre Compton (ETM’s biggest regular), Bridget Croft (Group Operations Manager), Jessica Dahlin (Group Events & Marketing Manager) and Stuart Singer (ETM PR).

We gathered in the spacious cellar room under The Jugged Hare and, whilst we waited for the first dish to be presented, agreed our judging criteria. Each of us awarded a mark out of 10 for presentation, originality of idea and, of course, taste. Our total scores out of 30 for each dish were then added together to rank the 6 dishes.

Here are the 6 dishes in the order they were served:

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Mark Fines, Head Chef at The Gun served “pan fried fillet of wild salmon glazed Jersey royals and baby turnips, semi dried cherry tomatoes, wild garlic and Vermouth velouté”, and there was also an olive and anchovy tapenade on the plate.

I thought this looked attractive on the plate. The salmon was nicely cooked. The potatoes didn’t taste of much, regardless of their glaze. The tomatoes had a lovely balance of sweet sharp. To my surprise, the tapenade didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the salmon. The velouté gave a nice flavour too, though I’d not have been able to identify it if asked. Again, it didn’t overwhelm the salmon, nor clash with the other elements.

My score 22/ 30

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Paul Roman, Group Relief Chef entered a dish of “pan fried fillet of wild Scottish salmon, baby fennel, spring peas, asparagus and radish salad, horseradish chantilly”. A small pot of double chicken stock was poured into the dish at the table. As Paul wasn’t able to attend on the day, his dish was cooked for him by Mark Fines.

I really liked the classic combination of salmon and horseradish. The fresh crunchy vegetables underneath worked nicely, like a warm summer salad. Again, the fish itself was cooked perfectly with nice crisp skin. The intense chicken stock was delicious, but I’m not sure it was the ideal choice to pair with the fish.

My score 18/ 30


Nick Butler, Sous Chef at Chiswell Street Dining Rooms served “pan fried fillet of wild Scottish salmon, foie gras, English samphire and apple salad, apple and vanilla purée” and also mentioned a vanilla and lemon oil.

It’s fair to say this dish was the most controversial, with four of us not convinced by the combination of salmon and foie gras, one undecided and one very keen indeed!

As previously, the salmon was beautifully cooked, with crispy skin. The samphire added a very nice crunchy salty note. But whilst I liked the foie gras, apple and vanilla they simply didn’t work at all with the salmon for me. In fact, this felt to me like two separate dishes on the same plate. I’d be delighted to have the foie gras, apple and vanilla as a starter and the salmon and samphire as a fish course. The rich, meaty, fatty foie gras totally disguised the flavour of the salmon and this dish could just have well been made with a bland white fish, to similar but less expensive effect.

My score 16/ 30


Faruk Shalaku, Head Chef at The Well served “pan fried fillet of Scottish salmon, spring vegetable, pea shoot salad, chive butter sauce”.

This dish really did look beautiful on the plate, with the vibrant green of peas, beans and shoots against the pink of the fish. Fish was beautifully cooked again. The sauce was weak on flavour though the vegetables made up for that to an extent. I gave this one good marks for presentation, and fair marks for taste, but marked it down for originality. Nothing wrong with a classic, and that’s what we agreed this dish is, but it didn’t feel like a particularly exciting or original idea to enter into a competition.

My score 19/ 30


Richard O’Connell, Head Chef at Chiswell Street Dining Rooms and The Jugged Hare served “confit of wild salmon, tarragon and Alexander crust, foraged sea beet, Herefordshire rhubarb, lemon crème fraiche, langoustine mousse”.

I loved the appearance of this dish, with the lovely colours from the pink fish and langoustine, the vibrant red rhubarb, the green of the herb crust and the darker green sea beet. It was a really unusual and original combination and yet every single element worked beautifully together on the palate. Not a single element was superfluous. And I was doubly impressed that Richard had been able to present rhubarb, a vegetable I’m not very keen on, in a way that I enjoyed so much.

My score 27/ 30


Philip Kane, Senior Sous Chef at Chiswell Street Dining Rooms stepped in at the last minute when one of the original finalists was unable to attend. He came up with his idea for a dish very much at the last minute and according to what ingredients he found available!

He presented “butter poached wild salmon, langoustine, rainbow chard and smoked haddock cream”.

The salmon was super soft, and the butter made it even richer. The flavours here were big, with a subtle but pleasant hint of star anise in the fishy cream. The langoustine added a hint of sweetness, the chard a pleasant crunch and mineral flavour and the artichoke pieces (if we identified them correctly) gave a nice texture and taste too.

My score 26/ 30


Our aggregated scores revealed Richard O’Connell as the winner and Philip Kane in second place.

As their scores were so close, and Philip had pulled it out of the bag at late notice, Tom decided that both would be awarded the prize of a paid visit to Cruden Bay in Scotland, where the wild salmon is caught.

Congratulations to both and well done to all the chefs; I enjoyed tasting all of your dishes very much.


Kavey Eats was a guest of The ETM Group.

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