Norwegian red king crab makes star appearance at London restaurant

A London restaurant had royal visitors on Tuesday 31 January - well, at least they were royalties of the sea... In fact, this was the first time Norwegian red king crabs were brought alive into the UK.

The impressive crabs were on display at an event hosted by the Norwegian Seafood Export Council at the up-market Knightsbridge restaurant One-O-One which has been serving its customers Norwegian red king crab for several years. The crabs, all between 8-10 years old, had made the long journey from Northern Norway to London by car and plane, only to be served on a plate to the joy of very happy diners. The dish has become so popular at One-O-One that chef Pascal Proyart serves around 60kg of it each week – and hungry Londoners are calling the restaurant on beforehand to double-check that there is still some left.

Of all species of shellfish, Norwegian red king crab is one of the most outstanding and impressive you can serve. The meat of the legs and claws has a naturally sweet taste. The meat is extremely versatile and can also be steamed, boiled and baked. It works well with a variety of different spices and seasonings. “King crab is for me, as the name implies, the king of the crab and shellfish, tasty and delicate on the palate. You have to test it to really appreciate its true value. Once you have experienced the flavour, you will never forget it,” says Proyant.

A Norwegian red king crab at One-O-One waiting to be cooked and prepared by chef Pascal Proyart.
Photo: Royal Norwegian Embassy

Norway’s catches of red king crab account for only a small percentage of the world’s total. Despite this, Norwegian red king crab is attracting attention in the world markets mainly because of its impressive size and meat quality. It  weighs 4.3 kg on average, while crabs from the world’s largest catching nation, Alaska, have an average weight of approximately 3 kg.

The fishing of Norwegian Red king crab  takes place in the northern part of Norway, using small coastal vessels. The vessels carry a maximum of 30 crab nets and have a short distance to travel to reach the receiving facilities. This means that the crabs are caught in limited numbers, making it possible for the fisherman to handle each crab individually, reducing the stress and damage to the creature. Both the condition and survivability of the crab benefit from these gentle catching methods. This care and attention, when used throughout the process, from catch to production, give the Norwegian red king crab  a distinctive quality advantage.

The red king crab was introduced to the Murmansk Fjord in Russia in the 1960s and has since spread to large areas in the southern Barents Sea. The introduction of the red king crab was the result of a carefully planned, Russian-based programme. The distribution of red king crabs spanned several years, during which time thousands of crabs – both adults and fry – were transferred from the Sea of Okhotsk at the northwest arm of the Pacific Ocean to the Murmansk Fjord.

In the mid-1970s, individual red king crab s started turning up as by-catches in Norwegian waters and in the 1980s, an increase in these by-catches was registered. But it was in the spring of 1992 that large numbers of red king crab were being caught in Norwegian waters for the first time, specifically in the coastal net and line fisheries in East Finnmark. In the autumn of 1992, king crab was put on the agenda of the Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission. In the period from 1994-2001, there was a limited research catch, where Norway and Russia agreed on a total quota and divided this equally among themselves.

In the autumn of 2002, Norway started commercial catching of red king crab. At that time, 127 vessels were given licences to participate in the catching, and the quota was set at 100,000 male king crabs. When commercial fishing agreements were adopted, the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fishing Commission followed by setting up principles of taxation for this catch. These principles describe, amongst other things, the degree of taxation, minimum size, catching period and equipment regulations. These principles of taxation were introduced with the intention of attaining a sustainable long-range return of the stock. For 2005, the quota for red king crab  in Norway was set at 280,000 male crabs. This was the same as the 2004 quota.

To find exciting recipes and to learn more about the Norwegian red king crab and other tasty fish, visit the Norwegian Seafood Export Council (NSEC) website

Two of the Norwegian red king crabs that were brought over to London - with them on display is a a Norwegian white halibut, another speciality at One O One.
Photo: Royal Norwegian Embassy

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