It’s all about barbecue! This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. For the Norwegian National Barbecue Team (that’s right folks, Norway), 2017 marks its 10th anniversary as competitors in planet Earth’s most important barbecue cookoff.
A self-proclaimed team of barbecue fanatics, all eight members work daily with food. The team’s goals have always been twofold: First, to represent Norway in the U.S., the birthplace of barbecue; second, to teach Norwegians about barbecue.
The team brings its Norwegian heritage to the forefront by specializing in none other than Norway’s specialty—seafood. The Norwegian National Barbecue Team has worked with Norwegian Seafood over its ten years at Memphis in May, including using Norwegian Salmon and Halibut. Preparations vary from year to year, but the Norwegian team's "secret" is to barbecue the fish using seasonings and cook temperatures similar to the Norwegian style of cooking. In addition, members have found that flavor-wise, Americans love a hint of sweetness. Their ElvisLaks salmon dish satisfies that sweet tooth with a brown sugar glaze on richly flavored Norwegian Salmon, resulting in a dish that won the team 4th place in the Seafood category in Memphis in 2008.
The Norwegian team fell in love with Memphis on its first visit in 2007 and has chosen the Memphis in May event over all other barbecue competitions. The team has even made a name for itself in Memphis while competing against the biggest names in American barbecue. In 2011, the team won the “People’s Choice” category—just one example of the accolades it’s picked up in the Birthplace of rock & roll.
"We love Memphis," says team captain Craig Whitson. "We love the people, we love cooking at Tom Lee Park, and with the likes of Gus’s Fried Chicken, Gibson’s Donuts and several great barbecue joints, we keep fueled-up by the best of the best."
This year, the team is competing in the Ribs, Beef, Poultry, Seafood, Exotic, Tomato-Based BBQ Sauce, Mustard-Based BBQ Sauce, Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce, Hot Wings and the Kingsford Tour of Champions. All of the mentioned categories will be awarded on Friday, May 19, and the Kingsford Tour of Champions will be awarded on Saturday, May 20. Make sure to buy your ticket for the Kingsford Tour of Champions so you can try the team’s delicious barbecue. Tickets can be bought at http://www.memphisinmay.org/events/world-championship-barbecue-cooking-contest/tickets/. Also check them out at Cooker Caravan, a free tour of the competing teams to get a behind-the-scenes look. The Norwegian National Barbecue Team will be at stand number R-063. Come over and say hi!
ElvisLaks, The Return
1 side of Norwegian Salmon fillet, skin on
1 cup coarse-grain mustard (Zatarain’s® Creole Mustard, or a French coarse mustard)
3 tbsp dark beer, stout or aquavit
2 tbsp fresh dill, freshly chopped
Light brown sugar
Fresh dill, for garnish
- Sprinkle Norwegian Salmon with kosher salt, ground black pepper and sugar. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix mustard, beer or aquavit, and 2 tbsp chopped dill.
- Spread a thin layer of mustard mix over the cut side of the salmon. Use the back of a spoon to make an even layer.
- Top mustard with light brown sugar. Don´t be afraid to use too much, as the sugar will melt and form a glaze. Top the brown sugar with finely chopped fresh dill.
- Grill salmon over indirect heat until done (roughly 30 minutes, depending on the grill you are using). Check by lightly pressing the surface of the thickest part of the salmon. This fish should be firm to the touch, not mushy, and definitely not hard. If you are unsure, just cut a slit in the fish to check doneness. (I won´t tell anyone you did it.)
Tips: Use wood chips (apple, cherry) or cedar planks, to give more smoky flavor to the salmon.
You can also cook the salmon in portion sizes. Remember that smaller pieces will need less time on the grill.