The Norwegian Seafood Council “wants people all over the world” to know that “the best seafood in the world comes from Norway.” To spread the gospel, the organization recently sponsored a gastronomic tour of Norway for a select group of chefs. One of the participants, Jamie Malone, captain of the kitchen at Sea Change restaurant and champion of sustainable seafood, is currently serving a five-course meal ($75, $95 with wine pairings) inspired by the trip and featuring Norwegian seafood.
The first and last courses of the special dinner are truly inspired. Red king crab with black garlic and cucumber (pictured below right) is stunning — although the sweet shellfish would be delicious on its own, the other ingredients (including sharp lemon and delicate sea beans) take it from excellent to superb.
Like the crab, a dessert featuring a date streusel tart (above left) shines with limited components. Served with honey ice cream and squares of orange cornmeal pound cake, the tart (a small mound of fig mixture and streusel atop a circle of shortbread) beautifully balances buttery richness with fruity sweetness.
Although it didn’t rise to the heights of the crab or the tart, we also enjoyed a cold dish of salmon belly, beet, smoked apple broth, and yogurt (top right in the picture below). Tart and earthy, the dish is an ode to summer, or what’s left of it. Had the salmon been more pronounced (it took a back seat to the beets) and the broth as smoky as advertised, we would have fallen head over heels.
A main course of salmon with sauerkraut, bacon, and mustard (pictured above left) also verged on excellence. While the combination of flavors was spot on, the comforting, savory dish was a bit too timid. Stronger sauerkraut and more mustard likely would have done the trick.
It would take more than minor tweaking, however, for the halibut dish (above) to win us over. Roasted in butter, the exceptionally delicate, bone-white fish had an unpleasant chalky texture and was overpowered by a heavy hazelnut puree. An accompanying mixture of fennel, orange, and olive was far better than the fish, and we would have happily eaten a whole plate of the lively, refreshing salad.
On the whole, Chef Malone has certainly done great service to the aims of the Norwegian Seafood Council. Her love letter to Norway (sure to be popular here in the upper Midwest) will be on offer at Sea Change through September 12.
Disclosure — writer and photographer each received a ticket to this event with a face value of $95.
Sea Change, 806 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55415; 612.225.6499