Chef Ming Tsai Talks Salmon with Award-Winning Chef Geir Skeie

In part two of this four-part series, Chef Ming Tsai heads to Stord, Norway, to meet Norwegian Chef Geir Skeie and learn about Norway’s world-renowned aquaculture industry.

Chef Geir Skeie runs three Norwegian restaurants with his wife, who also happens to be the pastry chef. Before the age of 30, Chef Geir had already won the world’s most prestigious culinary competition. He was awarded first place at the 2009 Bocuse d’Or, an event he had dreamed about since he was a child.

“I have always loved food and the Bocuse d’Or had been a goal of mine since I was 13 years old, so it was very exciting when I won.” —Chef Geir

No stranger to the Bocuse d’Or, Chef Ming was on the tasting jury at the 2015 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon. He also serves on the ment’or BKB Culinary Council, a network of prestigious industry leaders who provide their culinary expertise and knowledge to young chefs.

The first stop of the day is a Norwegian Salmon farm. Here, Chef Ming and Chef Geir explore Norway’s responsible farming practices and get a firsthand look at how the salmon are raised.

“Once you experience the salmon farm, I think you get a much better understanding of how they are raised and you instantly become a fan. Being able to see the technology was incredible and when used to the high degree it was, it’s no wonder the product is as delicious, clean and pristine as it is,” said Chef Ming Tsai.

When it comes to salmon, Norwegians believe origin matters. Norway’s seafood industry pioneered the development of responsible ocean salmon farming in the early 1970s. Many people don’t realize that Atlantic salmon are native to Norway’s cold, clear waters. The salmon that were sourced for Norway’s first fish farm came from Norwegian rivers and were brought to the ocean to breed. This means that Norwegian farmed salmon have the same genetics as wild salmon, but due to their environment and the fact they don’t have to forage for food, the farmed salmon are able to grow faster, mature later and resist disease better.

Nurtured slowly over a long period of time in icy-cold fjords, the salmon are given the time, space and opportunity to fully mature and develop their delicate, easily distinguishable flavor. Combining hard-earned experience and advanced technology, Norway continues to make huge strides within the aquaculture industry.

To prevent overcrowding, Norwegian law requires that salmon make up less than 2.5 percent of the pen’s volume, so that each pen is made up of 97.5 percent water to allow for maximum comfort and a healthy growth cycle.

Since the late eighties, there has been a 99% reduction in the usage of antibiotics in Norwegian ocean-farmed salmon due to effective vaccines in the early stage of the salmon’s life cycle. Today, antibiotics are no longer an issue in Norwegian aquaculture, since less than 1% of all salmon are treated. 

By working with the vast the resources of the sea in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way, Norwegian fish farming can provide a reliable source of healthy protein for the world’s growing population. Today, Norway’s aquaculture industry ranks among the world’s leading programs. 

After sampling the fresh fish, the chefs are inspired to get back to the kitchen. They head over to Chef Geir’s restaurant, Brygga 11. Before heading to the stove, Chef Geir Skeie mixes up one of his favorite cocktails—Aquavit Sour featuring egg whites, apple juice, simple syrup, aquavit and complementary spices.

With the scent of seawater still in the air, the chefs are ready to prepare fresh salmon in two different ways.

Norwegian Salmon is incredibly versatile and can be prepared in a variety of ways, both raw and cooked. It has a clean, fresh taste and moist, flaky meat when cooked. Not only is it delicious, but it is also a nutrient powerhouse full of omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins and antioxidants.