Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fisketorget in Bergen


















The obvious place to go to look for what the deep waters of the West coast of Norway has to offer is Bergen Fish market. Located at the inner part of Vågen, it has turned into a major tourist attraction, or tourist trap as some would say. Whatever, just walking around among the stalls you may see what you could have enjoyed if you had lived here.

Fisketorget is one of the most important outdoor markets in Norway. This market and the meat market - Kjøttbasaren show Bergen as an important culinary centre.

In 1276 city laws decided in what areas of Bergen selling of fish and meat could take place. As Vågen was much deeper, these market were located further into the old city centre.

The market's existence has been threatened several times during the 20th century, but it has luckily survived and is thriving to the joy of the citizens of Bergen and tourists. Up to 40 different stalls offers a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and mussels, and even products made from deer, venison, and moose.

Norwegian lobsters

Lobsters are not found in the abundance by the Norwegian coast. In fact our lobster are under threat due to two different factors. The most important threat is overfishing.

To prevent depletion of the local lobster fishing is only allowed from October 1st to November 30th from the Swedish border to the border of Møre og Romsdal county. There are limitations on size as well, as the young ones are allowed to grow up and breed before being caught.

The second threat comes from its cousins, the North American lobsters. There are a large import of live lobsters from Canada and the US. Some of these have been released into the wild, and has later be found to have thrived in our waters. The North American lobster is larger and more agressive, and may during time take over the area of our native lobster.

Let us hope this will not be the case, as our native lobsters are delicious. They are very sought after during the season and people pay up to €70 per kilo

It is very aromatic and should not be messed with. Less is more. I love it served cold with mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon and good home made bread.

Kamchatka Crab or Red King Crab

Another delicacy seen on the stall is the Kamchatka Crab. A native of the Pacific, it was introduced to the Barents Sea in the 1960. Since then it has spread to most of the Norwegian coast and is regarded as an invasive species.

In spite of this, it is highly priced and regarded as a blessing for parts of the Norwegian fisheries, thus it is widely available on the Norwegian market.

It is a delicious treat. It has a hard shell, but inside you find the most delicious sweet meat.

Delicious Norwegian Prawns

The lobster and Kamchatka Crab are highly priced delicacies. There are, however, seafood at affordable prices available. One of my favourites are large Norwegian prawns.

They are found in abundance in the Northern Atlantic, and you can get them freshly boiled or frozen. The fresh prawns are certainly the best, but I often buy frozen, and they are of excellent quality.

A good open prawn sandwich is a Scandinavian specialty. A large heap of peeled prawns on a large, buttered slice of fine bread topped with a generous amount of mayonnaise, garnished with a twig of dill and a slice of lemon.

This is indeed something to try when visiting Norway.

Crab

Large brown crabs are an important commercially species, and are found in abundance along the Norwegian coast. In my hometown, Arendal, fishermen arrive at the harbour to sell freshly caught boiled crabs.

They are available as whole crabs, crab claws (as quite a few prefer the meat in the claw to the meat in the shell), or as "Krabbeskjell, i.e. crabs that has been completely cleaned and all the meat placed back in the shell.

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