From catch to consumer: Frozen-at-sea fish never disappoints
Franklin D Roosevelt once said that, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative efforts,” and every true seaman would heartily agree. Working on-deck in the fresh air, the breaking of waves the only sound for miles around, and the camaraderie of the crew makes life at sea the ultimate test of character.
In Russia, seafaring is an integral part of the country’s history and its fishing industry in particular has supported families and whole communities for centuries. While Russian fishermen are very much in tune with these traditions, developments in technology mean that fish can now be processed and frozen at sea, ensuring that consumers have access to the freshest of products.
Norebo, the Russian fishing giant, is leading the way on this front. Its crews are wedded to their seafaring lifestyle and dedicate their creativity and nous to catching wild artic fish, fresh from the icy waters of the Barents Sea. With speed and precision, the fish are then filleted and frozen, all within just hours of being caught.
“Five species, two oceans, one quality” – this is Norebo’s longstanding motto for its frozen-at-sea (FAS) fillet business, and it perfectly reflects the company and the crew’s commitment to providing flawless products to their customers.
A common purpose
To deliver such a product, world-class training is an essential first step. On shore, Norebo’s crews are taught about the filleting process by an industry specialist, who first shows them the ropes and then helps them to put it all into practice.
These aren’t just typical work competences: these are skills that have been passed down from generation to generation in Russian communities, and they not only provide a livelihood to the crew but are also an immense source of professional pride.
Once out at sea, the fishermen are in their natural habitat and as soon as the catch is hauled aboard, they can put their skills into action. The fish will first be filleted, then the fillets will be trimmed with great care, before being packed and frozen. None of the arctic freshness is lost, just as nature intended.
This work requires rigour and due process, but it is also a test of the crew’s personal qualities, and it’s one that they relish. When asked which traits are required to ensure that Norebo’s frozen-at-sea fillets are always of the highest standard, the crew are near unanimous: resilience, responsibility, and solidarity.
The work is a team effort, with “the more experienced seamen always supporting and helping less experienced fishermen”, as reported by one Norebo crew member. A sense of kinship fuels the crew’s efforts and makes the vessel feel like a home away from home. This feeling is so strong for Alexander Volkov, a Norebo fisherman, that even when he’s back on land, he feels as if “the sea is calling.”
From boat to basket
Fortunately, for Norebo, its employees on land are just as impressive as its crews at sea. Once taken ashore, their frozen fillets’ journey from the ship to the shop is overseen by highly experienced staff, and Norebo’s vertically integrated holding structure means that no check or procedure is left incomplete. As a result, any supermarket or restaurant taking delivery of an order of frozen-at-sea Norebo fillets rests easy knowing that the product’s journey has been choreographed to perfection.
Yet as always, the best part of the process is undoubtedly the eating. Once defrosted, the fillets are just as nature intended: light, delicious and healthy, the ideal choice for both a meal with the family or a more gourmet evening with guests.
Take Cod à la Grenobloise, a stunning pairing of cod and butter sauce. The light, flaky cod fillet is accompanied by a rich brown butter sauce, the perfect combination of flavours. Diners simply defrost and bake the fish, let it rest for five minutes before setting it down on a bed of crushed potatoes, then ladle the sauce on top and voilà.
Simple but delicious, and endlessly versatile, frozen-at-sea fillets are the pride of the crews that produce them and a source of joy for those that cook and enjoy them.
High standards, high quality
Despite the technical acumen of Norebo’s crews, the company’s dedication to providing high-quality produce to its customers is as much a personal as it is a professional endeavour. This approach is reflected in the fact that every box of product that the company produces is attached with a tracking number, allowing the customer to identify the exact crew member who packed their frozen fillets at sea.
From this logistical flourish to the flawless handling of fresh fish, Norebo has fine-tuned its frozen-at-sea business to uphold the highest of standards in its pursuit of perfecting the product. Norebo tell consumers, “The result is a fish fillet of the highest possible quality” – the foundation of their success.
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