Only first-class Skrei that is caught, processed and packed according to set and strict requirements are labeled as Skrei. These requirements include:
- Wild-caught between January and April
- Fully grown (approximately 5 years old)
- Caught in the traditional spawning grounds that line Norway’s coast
- In immaculate condition—no nicks, bruises or damage
- Packed within 12 hours of being caught
- Stored between 32° and 39.2°F
- Packed and processed in accordance with strict criteria that guarantee the highest quality
- Whole, fresh Skrei must be individually labeled with a quality label attached to the foremost dorsal fin and placed in boxes that also have a quality label attached. Fresh fillets or slices of Skrei must have this label attached to the outside of the packaging. The quality label is oval and features a drawing of the fish with the text “Skrei, Gadus morhua.”
Quality-labeled Skrei is caught, packed and stored according to strict criteria that are a guarantee to the customer that they are buying fresh, authentic Skrei of the highest quality. Skrei is also a seasonal product with limited availability, and has qualities that are exceptional in terms of consistency, color and flavor.
Skrei differs in appearance from other cod as it has a longer, more pointed shape and its skin has a lighter color. It also migrates vast distances and spends its adolescence in the Barents Sea. Some of the coastal cod live a more stationary existence on the coast and tend to have large heads compared to body size. Skrei eats little during its migration from the Barents Sea to the Norwegian coast. Only the fish that are able to build up the strength after intense feeding in the Barents Sea will start on the long journey towards the spawning grounds.
The texture of quality-labeled Skrei differs from cod. The Skrei swims long distances to spawn and is therefore in excellent condition. This results in well-toned muscles and a firm texture. Taste is difficult to gauge and everyone has his or her own preferences. Some might claim there is a big difference between Skrei and cod, while others would have difficulty distinguishing between the two products in a blind taste-test.
Virtually all parts of the Skrei can be eaten. In addition to the firm, white meat, the Skrei yields products such as roe, liver, tongue and jaw, which are considered by many to be delicacies. Another popular part in Norway is the cod stomach. It is a Norwegian tradition to turn the stomach inside out and clean it in cold water. After that you fill the stomach with liver, chopped onion and salt and pepper and poach.
Availability depends first and foremost on the weather conditions. During the winter, bad weather can prevent fishermen from getting out to the fishing grounds. Climatic conditions are also a factor. Water temperatures and the salinity of the sea determine the time and place of the Skrei’s arrival in the fishing grounds.
Since Norway first enacted cod fishing regulatory controls in 1816, the country has gone to extensive lengths to ensure the longevity and quality of the Norwegian Cod supply. Of over 400 million Norwegian Cod that migrate each year, only around 10% of those caught will qualify for Skrei branding while 90% will return to their homes in the Barents Sea. Today, the Norwegian Cod fishery is not only the largest; it’s also one of the most organized and strictly regulated cod stocks in the world. All Skrei is Marine Stewardship Council certified, with strict catch guidelines that ensure a healthy population and environmentally sound process.