Pan-fried Skrei with cannellini beans and squid


First published in 2016
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If you have never heard of Skrei you would be forgiven. Until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of it either. Skrei, pronounced ‘skray’, is the name of a migratory Norwegian cod so special that it must be Norway’s best kept secret.

Every winter something remarkable happens, when driven by instinct great multitudes of cod return from the Barents Sea to their original spawning grounds around the islands of Vesterålen and Lofoten. Their epic 1000km swim through turbulent Arctic waters give the Skrei their sublime succulent white flesh. I do not say this lightly, but this is without doubt some of the best fish I have ever tasted. It is as far removed from ordinary cod as it could possibly be, and the pristine white fillets have an incredible texture and flavour. Simply pan-fried or steamed en papillote, the flesh comes apart in thick meaty flakes.

I have come up with an uncomplicated dinner party dish that I think is worthy of this wonderful fish. Lightly pan-fried Skrei loin fillet, served on a bed of cannellini beans and tender squid braised with smoked paprika, tomato and white wine. I like to use dried cannellini beans as I prefer their texture and flavour, but you could use canned cannellini beans instead – just simmer them gently in the stock for 10 minutes instead of an hour if you do.




Pan-fried Skrei

Cannellini beans

Braised squid

To serve

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
The day before serving, place the dried cannellini beans in a bowl, cover with water and soak overnight
To prepare the cannellini beans, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan and add the shallot, garlic and the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Fry over a low heat for 5 minutes
Drain the beans and add to the pan along with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer very gently for about an hour until the beans are soft but still intact. The stock should have almost evaporated by the time the beans are cooked. Remove the onion and herbs, drain any remaining liquid and set aside
For the braised squid, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the shallots. Fry over a low heat for 8 minutes. Add the squid rings and tentacles, garlic, cherry tomatoes, smoked paprika and tomato purée and cook for 3 minutes
Add the white wine and reduce by half before adding the beans. Stir and keep on a very low heat while you cook the fish
To prepare the Skrei, heat a non-stick frying pan and add the olive oil. Season the Skrei fillets with salt and pepper and add to the pan, skin-side down. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, turn the fillets and add the butter to the pan. Cook the fish for a further 4 minutes, basting with the butter from time to time
When ready to serve, stir the chopped parsley and 30g of unsalted butter through the squid and beans. Season with salt and pepper
Divide the beans and squid between plates or bowls and top with the Skrei fillets. Add a squeeze of lemon and serve immediately
First published in 2016
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