The Salmon: An educational taste of salmon in the heart of Oslo
Text: Alyssa Nilsen | Photos: Nancy Bundt
Norwegian salmon is known and loved in all corners of the world, and the Nordic country is the biggest producer of Atlantic salmon in the world. But not everyone knows about the food’s journey before it ends up on the table. The Salmon, located in the Oslo harbour, aims to change this.
The importance of the ocean for Norway is not lost on the nation’s inhabitants. It is a country built on fishing, and fish export was the most important trade before oil was discovered. It is still the country’s second-largest export, and in the first half of 2019 alone, 506,000 tonnes of salmon were exported from Norway – an increase of five per cent compared to the same period last year.
This is why co-owner of educational centre The Salmon, Petter Sandberg, feels it is important for both Norwegians and tourists to know about salmon farming and production, why Norway should continue to keep this industry alive, and how essential salmon farming is to the country.
Co-founded by restaurant-owner Sandberg and Nova Sea, one of the largest producers of Atlantic farmed salmon in northern Norway, The Salmon is located at Tjuvholmen in Oslo. Divided into two parts, the centre aims to educate people about salmon and the salmon farming industry, as well as give people a taste of the Atlantic delicacy.
“This is a one-of-a-kind centre,” says Sandberg. “There is nothing like it anywhere else. It’s an interactive experience that presents the Norwegian salmon industry, and it’s also a restaurant. It is the combination of understanding where your food comes from, what it is, how it’s produced and what that means for our country, and being able to eat that food within the same space.”
With interactive stations in the experience part of the centre, visitors can gain information and test their knowledge through game-based learning platform Kahoot!. They can also visit a control room, which is streaming video live from the Helgeland coast, allowing visitors to observe fish in real time through cameras placed above and under water. Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg tried the control room during the official opening of the centre earlier this year and helped feed the salmon using the controls and technology at the centre.
People tend to believe that wild salmon is healthier than farmed salmon, but a big research article published last year proved that this is not the case at all. There’s nothing about a wild salmon that’s healthier than a farmed one.
“We are certain that this centre can help increase people’s knowledge of farmed salmon and make national and international criticism focus on the important aspects of the industry rather than rumours and misinformation,” says Sandberg. “Every industry has its challenges to deal with. We all leave ecological footprints and must aim to be sustainable. We are not pretending to be perfect and without challenges, but we need to shine a light on factual issues rather than fictional, and show how intensely and vehemently we are working to solve those issues.”
To make sure that all the facts presented at the centre are correct, The Salmon is collaborating with NMBU, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Taste salmon every way
Once you’ve been through the experience part of the centre, why not try some of the fish you’ve just learnt about, in the restaurant? The Salmon offers salmon prepared in a variety of ways, such as raw, hot or cold smoked, gravlax and sushi. How about a waffle with smoked salmon and salmon roe?
The smoked salmon is delivered fresh every day from their own smokehouse at the Oslo harbour, where the fish is smoked the old-fashioned way while hanging rather than lying flat. The restaurant boasts seven trained chefs, four of them specialised in sushi, and they are continously experimenting with new flavours, textures and ingredient combinations in their salmon dishes. But there are also classic dishes on the menu, such as fish soup, oysters and fish cakes, as well as the best-sellers, sushi and grilled salmon with asparagus.
The centre is free of charge and open to locals, schools and tourists alike. The subjects of the knowledge centre are closely tied in with the curriculum of Norwegian secondary schools, but Sandberg would recommend it to anybody curious about the industry. Since its opening, the centre has had upwards of 30,000 visitors, and though booking in advance isn’t necessary for regular guests, it is also possible for businesses and private parties to book in events and lectures.
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