Having grown up along the coast of north-western Norway, naturally my family served fish at least twice or three times a week. My family are big fish lovers, and as a result, dinners consisted of a variety of dishes that included ingredients that were caught practically right outside our kitchen window. I am grateful I learned to love fish at a young age. Besides being healthy, I find fish to be very versatile and provides a very satisfying, yet light meal.
My home town of Sykkylven and the beautiful “Sykkylvsfjord” where my dad and I sometimes would go out in our boat and do some fishing (our town also has the smallest salmon river in the world – Aureelva!):
One of the dishes that stands out in my memory is seibiff – literally translated as “pollock steak”. Served with caramelized onions and a white gravy, it is definitely one of the heartier and tastiest fish dishes we have in Norway. It’s an every day classic that I think has been somewhat forgotten, which is a shame, because it is so flavorful and is a hit even with kids and people who are typically more fond of meat. Norwegians today have expanded their palates, have access to more exotic ingredients and have developed a demand for food beyond the “normal” scope of what was traditionally available to them. I think it’s fantastic to see jalapeno peppers, cilantro, curry paste and sushi now offered widely in my country but I also would love to see people preserve the wonderful, traditional dishes of Norway. Seibiff is one of them!
While we reserve halibut for special days, the pollock is more of a fish for regular weekday dinners. It’s hard to mess this fish up and it can stand up to big flavors, which is the reason it’s a favorite among cooks. Perhaps it’s not the most beautiful fish (which is why you seldom see it featured on restaurant menus) and the cheap price might not make it as popular by demand as our salmon and halibut. But in a dish, it never disappoints and the fish is widely available any time of year.
The pollock fish:
Below is a classic recipe for this sebiff dish, with caramelized onion, a tangy gravy (you can substitute heavy cream if you prefer a richer sauce) served w/ boiled potatoes and shredded carrot salad. You can also bread the fish with a flour/egg mixture or coat it with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, another favorite.
SEIBIFF MED LØK (Pollock with Onions)
2 lbs pollock
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup all purpose flour
2 large onions, halved and sliced thinly
2 tbsp butter
Melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat in a large saute pan and add the onions. Season with salt and perhaps a pinch of sugar. Cook until the onions caramelize, about 25 -30 minutes.
Season the haddock with salt and pepper, place the flour in a large bowl and season the flour as well w/s&p. Dredge the fish in the flour, and brush /pat off excess flour before placing the fish into the saute pan. Add the oil into a saute pan over medium heat and place the fish into the pan. Cook until golden and crisp on both sides, about 3 min on each side, then add the remaining 2 tbsp butter and baste the fish with the butter, another 2 minutes. You can also add a tbsp or so of capers into the butter, which adds a nice tough. Sprinkle the fish with some chopped chives before serving.
For the sauce/gravy:
2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp sour cream
In the same pan you sauteed the fish, bring the beef broth to a boil, remove from heat and whisk 2 tsbps of the broth with the sour cream in a small bowl, then whisk the mixture into the remaining broth. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with boiled potatoes or a potato puree, shredded carrot salad mixed with sliced apple, 1 tbsp sugar and juice of half a lemon and the caramelized onions. Spoon the sauce over the fish and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over it.
(Some people prefer broccoli and /or cherry tomatoes with the dish – you can pick whatever vegetable you like.)