Norway haddock are actually a number of closely related fish in the rockfish family. Some of these are endangered, some are not.
The Nordic species are deep-water fish that gorge on giant Greenland prawns and are caught in large numbers as they follow the shoals of prawns through the deep seas around Greenland. For many years they were considered a pest as they ruin the nets with their ferocious thorns and spikes and cut the hands of the fishermen. They were simply not eaten until some ingenious Greenlander hatched the idea to make them popular as a table fish.
This has been a huge success over the past 20 years, as people have realized how delicious Norway haddock is to eat – so much of a success, in fact, that some are now seriously endangered.
Appearance and taste
The fish are beautiful creatures with huge eyes made to catch the sparse light deep in the oceans, a vivid orange body to scare off predators, and spikes that will cut your fingers if you are not careful. The flesh is delicious, dense and white. It can be eaten even by people who are allergic to crustaceans.
Norway haddock is sweet-fleshed, and becomes almost lobster-like and densely flaky if fried on the skin. The skin becomes perfectly crispy and delicious if you fry it with a chervil cream and new potatoes. The huge head and bones should be kept for fish soup.
Norway haddock herbed fishcakes
The Scandinavians love all kinds of fishcakes, often very simply spiced. These are different, however, as they are made more like a burger, using the gelatinous quality of the fish to make the cakes stick together, and including no other ingredients except fresh herbs and salt.
Norway haddock, with its shellfish taste, is perfect for the task, but you can also use any member of the cod family, pike or grey mullet.
East the fishcakes hot with herbed butter, potatoes with dill and lemon wedges, or as a regular burger. With tomato, lettuce, and chervil cream.
750g Norway haddock fillets, skinned and boned
3 large handfuls of fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, tarragon, chives and chervil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Butter for frying
Make sure first that the fish contains absolutely no bones.
Chop the fish, herbs and salt together on a board, using a heavy, wide-bladed knife. No machine can do the job properly. Chop away, but stop while the fish is still coarser than minced meat and is beginning to stick together.
With wet hands, mold the fish into eight burgers. Melt the butter in a frying pan until browned, then fry the fishcakes very slowly until they are just set, and browned in one side. Don’t push them around the pan as they will disintegrate. Turn them over once and brown on the other side. They will need about 6 minutes altogether; leave them too long and they will become dry.
Feature image (on top): Fisherman fishing giant Norway haddock
Norway Haddock, written by Tor Kjolberg