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.