THE TOP TEN ONBOARD THE RAMOEN!
By Oliver Boutwood
Seafish and the Norwegian Seafood Council jointly hosted a trip to Alesund, one of Norway’s major fishing hubs, in order to give staff and owners from the UK’s Top Ten Fish and Chips Shops – the finalists of the National Fish and Chip Awards and myself– a taste of the true experience behind cod fishing from Norway.
As Director of Isle of Ely Produce and responsible for millions of bags of potatoes reaching fish and chip shops, I was keen to watch and learn from a nation who provide similar numbers of portions of fish to the UK each year.
The highlight of the trip was an excursion on board the Ramoen which, built in 2016, is one of Norway’s state of the art Frozen at Sea fishing fleet. The boat itself has an onboard factory, which takes the cod straight from the sea for fileting, sorting, sizing, packaging and freezing at -20C in a maximum of six hours.
The Ramoen is a 75-metre trawling vessel, designed by Rolls Royce in order to maximise efficiency and above all, minimize its environmental impact. The vessel combines diesel and electric propulsion to ensure it is one of the greenest vessels on the water – a commitment of the Norwegian fishing industry to keep the industry environmentally friendly. In addition, the entire fish is used – there is zero waste for the Ramoen’s catch as part of the fish that are unfit for consumption are processed for fish meal and fish oil production. It is also fitted with a dropkeel and laboratories in order to conduct research that helps the health of the oceans.
57% of consumers assume that chilled fish has a higher freshness quality than frozen. The truth? Freezing fish at sea is the best way to lock in its freshness. If frozen fish is stored correctly it can still taste fresh after 12 months.
Norway is one of the major suppliers of sustainable cod to the UK, providing 27% of the UK’s cod – much of which is supplied to the UK’s fish and chips industry.
Our group was made up of the best fish and chip shops from across the country:
- Alexander Walker – Lows Traditional Fish & Chips, Scotland
- Michael Watts – The Crispy Cod Tonyrefail, Wales
- Daniel Perry – Dolphin Dungannon, N Ireland
- Mark Corbally – Mister C’s, Yorkshire
- Thomas Wilkinson – Angel Lane Chippy, Cumbria
- Dino Papadamou – Papas Fish and Chips, Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire
- Harry Niazi – Olley’s Fish Experience, London
- Antonio Forgione – Captains Fish & Chips, Hertfordshire
- Thomas Rubensson – Harbour Lights, Cornwall
- Timothy Barnes – Krispies, Devon
While in Alesund, we were treated to some of the best examples of Norwegian seafood, first of all at Zuuma, an amazing restaurant that regularly uses seafood that is sourced less than an hour away.
On the final evening, our group dined at Klippfisk Akadamiet with a number of Norwegian’s from the industry, which included the Ramoen’s captain, among a number of other trawler and long line captains. The restaurant forms part of an impressive aquarium, which houses a number of species of Norwegian sealife, and has a grand view which looks directly out onto the water.
The highlight of the evening, apart from the amazing cuisine was when the fish and chip chefs were unexpectedly invited into the kitchen at the request of one of the captains in order to prepare fish and chips with the ingredients at hand to the best of their ability – despite not having the right products to hand, everybody in the restaurant enjoyed the experience immensely and the chefs loved the experience too.
I had been told by Austen that you bond with the group you visit Norway with, and now I believe him. We all had a great time together. I will remember my trip for a longtime.
Good Luck to the Top Ten Shops in January.
Special thanks must go to Hans from the Norwegian Seafood Council, and also Nikki from Seafish for organizing this trip, and of course to the Skipper of Ramoen, Egil Skarboevik, for sharing his amazing vessel with us.