Sunday, October 21, 2018

NORWEGIAN SEAFOOD GALA HITS 25TH YEAR MILESTONE


This year’s Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner has to be one of the most anticipated annual social events in Kuala Lumpur. It's the 25th year the gala has been held; a significant milestone celebrating the 50th year of bilateral relations between Norway and Malaysia.

Hosted by Her Excellency Gunn Jorid Roset, Norway’s Ambassador to Malaysia, the exclusive gala saw newly minted Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah as the guest-of-honour.

As expected, Norwegian master chef and the King of Salmon in Asia, Frank Naesheim and his professional team from Norway, Malaysia and Singapore rose to the occasion. Guest chefs: Geir Skeie (pix above), Kenneth Loke, Markus Dybwad and Anderson Ho pulled out the stops, conjuring their signature dishes fresh and hot on the spot that evening.
For uninitiated, the Norwegian Seafood Gala is an incomparable showcase of air-flown fresh seafood from Norway: salmon, trout, cod, cold water shrimps, prawns, scallops, langoustines, mackerel, haddock, halibut, monkfish, king crabs and assorted fish roe among others. The extravagant buffet spread unfailingly sent us seafood lovers into a tizzy; a spectacular spread straddling Norwegian, Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Indian and Thai cooking styles.
My absolute fave and the most Instagrammable speciality is undoubtedly the Norwegian Coldwater Shrimp ‘Tower’. Meticulously piled high into a precise dome, those dainty sweet shrimps are to-die-for and hardly need any condiment or sauce to savour.
Coming in a close second is the luxurious King Crab Sandwich with Tomatoes & Avocado, a chilled culinary masterpiece boasting delicious chunks of king crab meat layered between juicy tomatoes, tender asparagus and buttery avocado. Bocuse d’Or 2009 winner and founder of Norway’s hip Pink Fish fast food brand, Chef Geir Skeie scored with his Raw Salmon Salad ‘Pink Fish’ with Apple & Fennel.
At the live cooking stations, Chef Anderson Ho pulled in the crowd with scrumptious morsels of Norwegian King Crab with Granny Smith Apple and Basil Sorbet. We also went ga-ga over Chef Kenneth Loke’s Slow-cooked Norwegian Fjord Trout & Roe with Cep Brown Butter, Crispy Bulgur, Capers & Pickled Cucumber and Seared Langoustines with Hay-infused Coconut Milk, Turmeric Tapioca Puffs & Pandan Oil.



Not to be outdone, Chef Markus Dybwad proffered an outstanding Varanger King Crab with Red Cabbage, Chipotle Mayo & Pickled Jalapeno alongside delicate servings of Sterling White Halibut with Cucumber, Black Olives, Feta and Basil Leaf. Little dishes of Norwegian Mackerel Escabeche with Anchovies Cream completed his signature trinity.

Beautifully arranged cold platters, salads and appetisers featuring smoked, marinated and cured fish beckoned from the impressive line-up. I made a beeline for familiar faves like Marinated Herring with Asian Salsa; Seared Pepper Salmon Nicoise with Quail Eggs, Potatoes & Green Beans; Norwegian Shrimp Salad with Egg & Avocado and Dill Herring with Pickled Carrot & Pumpkin among others.
The surfeit of sumptuous seafood included Cooked King Crab Legs on Ice, Hot Smoked Salmon with Gochujang, Smoked Haddock with Fennel & Onion Slaw with Citrus Plum Sauce, bowls of shiny Black & Red Lumpfish Roe as well as Salmon Roe — best eaten atop mini blinis touched with sour cream, chopped chives, egg and shallot.
More seafood temptations rendered in different Asian guises helped to warm our tummies. Everyone were spoiled for choice as the indulgent selection highlighted unmatched catches of monkfish, halibut, wolf fish, salmon and trout in addition to lobsters, king crab legs and langoustines; all deftly prepared with a bewildering array of sauces, Asian spices and herbs, and techniques: poached, steamed, baked or fried.


Kudos to Chef Frank Naesheim and his capable guest chefs: Geir Skeie, Markus Dybwad (formerly a sous chef at Heston Blumenthal’s 3 Michelin starred Fat Duck and now a consultant chef at Snorre Food), Kenneth Loke (bronze medallist of Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific 2014) and Anderson Ho (chef advisor & mentor to Singapore’s National Culinary Team) who proved their culinary prowess. The supporting Mandarin Oriental KL team also deserved applause for their efforts.
How we managed to fit in dessert after that bonanza of a feast is anyone’s guess. I sampled the Traditional Ring Cake, Cream Puffs, Cardamom Coffee Cake, Princess Cake and Sitronfromasi Troll Cream to wrap up the memorable dinner on a sweet note.
Heartiest congratulations to Jon Erik Stenslid, Director, Southeast Asia, Norwegian Seafood Council who won the Malaysia-Norway Business Council’s Special Recognition Award. His tireless efforts in creating greater awareness of Norwegian salmon and seafood have resulted in soaring sales and rising market demand.
A special note of heartfelt appreciation to the Royal Norwegian Embassy for the invitation to the Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner.

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