Norwegian Stockfish is world famous for its quality. Premium quality stockfish requires the right balance of weather and temperature. The air must not be too dry and the temperature must be low enough to avoid flies and maggots but warm enough to avoid freezing. Add a continuous breath of wind, with a touch of seaborne salinity for best results. These ideal drying conditions are found in Lofoten and Finmarken Norway between January and April which coincidentally is the time of the year when the Codfish comes to the coast to spawn.
The drying process takes approximately three months and the Stockfish is usually harvested in June or as soon as it is dry. The degree of dehydration is based on subjective evaluation using various time tested and handed down methods which has evolved into an art. A properly dried stockfish should have a water content of between 14% and 16%. After drying the grader takes over with a practiced eye and skillful assessment, the craftsmanship of which is undeniable, to sort out the stockfish into various grades of quality based on standards that have been handed down through many generations. Initially the stockfish is sorted into 3 main categories:
- “Prima” – First class
- “Sekunda” – Second
- African quality or Tipo B
Then it is further sorted into a variety of grades based on quality, thickness and length. There are at least 12 different grades of “first class’ Lofoten cod, 5 of “second class” cod, and African quality.
Norwegian Stockfish – Food for Millions
Stockfish can be kept for many years if stored in a cool dry place, however, humidity can cause its deterioration. When immersed in water it soaks up all the moisture again and the flesh becomes milky. Many cultures soak it in water for 5 or 6 days replacing the water each day before use. The fish can then be cooked in the same way as fresh fish: steamed, fried, creamed or grilled or used in a variety of nutritional and tasty dishes. Stockfish is exported from Norway to over 30 countries including Italy, Sweden, Germany, UK, France, Spain, USA, Nigeria, Cameroon, etc.