The annual Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner. It was everything I’ve heard, read and seen about and more. I might have been invited to many events in my capacity as a blogger, but this Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner was always one that I have read in awe and feasted only with my eyes, and only online.
Last week I stood astounded in the midst of it all. Tables groaned under the weight of the bounty of the fertile Norwegian Sea, the centerpiece ice sculpture stood proud at the core of this magnificent spread and an army of chefs worked furiously at every corner to keep the buffet offerings plentiful.
Chef Frank Naesheim marched up and down the ballroom, his sharp eyes sweeping over the rows of tables and the kitchen team, ensuring that the evening run smoothly.
Also known as the Salmon King, Chef Frank graduated from a Culinary School in Norway and worked his dues in various renowned restaurants in France and Norway.
This giant (or is it cos I’m tiny?) cool chef is currently based in Singapore and his company, Snorre Food Pte Ltd, imports high quality Norwegian Seafood and promote it in Asia. Cookbooks, guest chef, worked and was chef de cuisine at the Bagatelle in Oslo when it was awarded a Michelin star, culinary competitions, Chef Frank has been there, done that.
The oceanic feast that night was astounding with platters and platters of salmon, smoked every way imaginable, bowls of colourful roes, a dome of fascinating architectural display of shrimps, poached whole salmon fish, pickled herrings in many variations, sashimi, sushi, cooked King crab legs on ice and hot dishes prepared both Norwegian and Asian styles
Temperature varies from cold to bubbling hot, in soup or freshly fried.
Cooked King crab legs on ice. Firm sweet flesh.
Luxurious – Capelin roe, Salmon roe and the Lumpfish caviar (black and red). Condiments at the side includes chopped chives, onions, egg white & yellow yolk.
Amazing. Such a delicate and uniformed piece of work. I was told this took almost 3-4 hours to assemble by hand. It was reduced to a few one shrimps within 30 minutes after the buffet started!
Salads that I could eat everyday.
Whole cold poached salmon & medallions.
The many variations of smoked salmon: Smoked salmon loin with black sesame seed paste, Hot smoked salmon with black pepper, Tandoori hot smoked salmon, Hot smoked apricot salmon loin, Double smoked salmon belly, Salmon signature Thai style, Smoked salmon Singapore fillet.
Whew! I bet many of us have not tasted so many variations of smoked salmon before! 🙂
Thank you chef, more salmon gravlax for my plate please! 😀
King Crab Terrine.
One of the chefs told me this is dogfish, a member of the shark family and commonly found in Norwegian waters.
Sashimi and sushi. Everyone’s favourite.
While the one traditional Norse dish with a claim to international popularity is smoked salmon, herrings, on the other hand can be an acquired taste, especially when served raw or pickled.
Some of the pickled herrings that night was given an Asian flavour; Pickled Herring with Gherkins and Carrot, Marinated Herring with “Asian Salsa” and Curry Herring with Apple and Mango, which I trust was meant to encourage the guests to sample, since these are familiar flavours.
Most Norwegians eat 3-4 meals a day, generally cold and a hot dinner at home with the family. Thus it was not surprising to find most of the delicacies served that evening were of the chilled variety. However on one side of the buffet, hot cooked food in food warmers and busy chefs at the live stations ensured tummies are kept warm and satisfied.
The last of the chilled food: Salmon tartare, Sweet sour salmon with onion and cloves.
Guest chefs were kept busy the entire night as they assiduously prepare plates after plates of some of the exquisite dishes from their live stations.
I made a beeline for Chef Sam Leong’s Noodles with King Crab Leg in milky chicken consommé as a hot soup was the perfect way to get my sensitive stomach warmed up for the night. It was superbly rich in flavour and did what I needed it to do; settle my stomach for the extravagant feast ahead. There was a generous chunk of King Crab (of which I mistaken thought at first it was hairy crabs – Chinese = hairy crabs get it? LOL!) at the bottom of the bowl too!
Hot off the boiling oil from Chefs Otto Weibel and Michael Mueller (Resort World Sentosa) was King Crab and Scallop Pastille with mushroom, savoy cabbage fondue and saffron mussel cream. This hot packet had a scallop and king crab on either side of it, and was really a packet of oceanic treasure.
I love salmon seared lightly with its insides slightly rare and this Sous-vide Salmon Fillet with red capsicum coulis from Chef Forest Leong was amazing! The capsicum coulis had a nice zing to it and paired perfectly with the soft, moist piece of salmon.
There was a perpetual queue at the live stations and it’s easy to understand why. Here’s another delicious dish which was another of my (many) favourites; Leek Cream Smoked Halibut, Spinach and Eggs.
Over at the hot buffet, I saw Chef Frank digging into the turbot and I followed suit. An uncommon fish in Malaysia’s restaurants, this turbot was baked coated in egg and salt and eaten with some lobster bisque-like sauce ladled over it, Chef Frank and Chef Otto had said as they sampled the fish.
Here’s more of the delectable feast during the Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner, some with Asian flair.
Monkfish tail cooked in green curry with kaffir lime & Thai basil.
Halibut fillet steamed w chili line & coriander.
Baked cod fish gently covered with percik sauce, vegetable briyani (I kid you not!), salmon otak-otak, black halibut fillet with black bean sauce, Wok fried black pepper lobster tails with green onions and the buffet line goes on.
Outside of the ballroom was the dessert spread and all I could manage was a lingonberry ice-cream, made in- house in Mandarin Oriental kitchens. Chef Matthew was most helpful and chatted with me about the desserts; the Princess Cake, waffles, the sweet soup and marzipan cake.
The Princess Cake- a traditional Norwegian dessert with cake sponge, raspberries, pastry cream, whipped cream; all en-robed in a thick cloak of marzipan. And yes, it must be this Granny Smith green color. 😀
Chef Matthew called this ‘the sweet soup’.
Of course, it wasn’t all about the food. One of the highlights of the night is the the Malaysian Norwegian Business Council (MNBC) Innovation Award whereby a Norwegian company is selected for best outstanding performance based on several criteria.
Let’s not forget the people that made this possible – Chef Frank Naesheim and his team, the kitchen team from Mandarin Oriental and the guest chefs.
Chef Ricky Thein of Mandarin Oriental KL and Chef Sam Leong of Forest at Resorts World Sentosa.
Chef Otto Weibel and Michael Mueller (Resort World Sentosa).
Entertainment for the night a performance by famous Norwegian singer Marit Larsen better known as one part of the pop duo M2M.
A seat at the annual Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner in Kuala Lumpur is always much coveted and I thank dear Marian for mine this year.
Food was superb yes, but the overall exposure and the valuable learning curve I experience that night was not just about food, but also on culture and people and on a more personal note, friendships.
I enjoyed talking to the chefs and the MO kitchen team as well as the people from Snorre Food Pte Ltd. I really had them to thank for their time and their willingness to share and answer all my queries.
Norway; fjords and naturally stunning landscape, whale meat, fresh herrings, 24 sunlight in the summertime, vikings, skiing, unpronounceable food names – you’re definitely on my bucket list! 😀
*All pictures taken with the Sony NEX 5T with very minor edits for brightness.