Mark Hix heads to Norway to fish for cod and cook up a storm

 
Mark Hix
The incredible waterfront in Holmen Lofoten; inset: Hix's baked scallop and egg

I’ve just been on a whistle-stop trip to Norway with fellow chef Valentine Warner, staying in a village called Holmen on the ridiculously beautiful Lofoten fishing islands to the north west of the country.

Holmen and the surrounding villages – like much of Norway – are all about cod. Lining the roadsides are big wooden racks full of drying fish heads, which hang for months before being exported to North America, Africa and South East Asia.

It’s the kind of thing we’re used to seeing and smelling in African and Caribbean markets but it’s a little incongruous this far north of the equator. Unlike the Africans and the Caribbeans, however, the Norwegians aren’t very adventurous when it comes to cooking cod, so Val and I knocked up a couple of suppers to show them how it’s done.

We caught a decent haul and used every bit: the tails were crisped in a broth, the meaty heads went into a curry and the livers were sauteed on toast with capers.

Our hosts Ingunn Rasmussen and Trond Melhus, who own the incredible waterside lodge Holmen Lofoten (holmenlofoten.no), displayed a scurrilous lack of confidence in our fishing abilities and bought a load of scallops in case we came home empty handed; I couldn’t resist doing something interesting with them for breakfast.

It was one of those spontaneous moments: the wood-fired oven was on the go and we had some left-over bacon from the day before. I remember my dad cooking scallops and bacon when I was a kid, so the decision made itself. Even if you don’t have a wood-fired oven, a conventional one will do the trick. It’s pretty easy too: the scallops cook at just the same time as the egg.


Brunch scallops (serves 4)

Ingredients

• 4 very fresh large scallops, cleaned, with the cupped half-shell kept for later

• ½ tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil

• 4-6 thick rashers of streaky bacon, cut into ½ cm dice, or about 80-100g diced pancetta

• 4 Clarence Court Burford Browns (eggs)

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

• Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6 (a wood fired oven will be much hotter).

• Heat the oil in a small frying pan and gently cook the bacon on a low heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

• Meanwhile, detach the roes from the scallops, cut them into 3-4 pieces each, add to the bacon and continue to cook on a low heat for a couple more minutes.

• Place the scallop meat in one side of the shell and season.

• Crack the egg beside the scallop and place the shells on baking tray for about 10 minutes or until the white is just set.

• To serve, scatter the bacon and roes over the scallop.

Related articles