1 million Portuguese watch preparation of Clipfish
The number of viewers is expected to exceed one million when the Portuguese this Christmas receive Norwegian Clipfish and Northern Norwegian nature served in prime time through two Christmas specials by the country’s most popular cooking program.
Bacalhau (Clipfish) is for the Portuguese just as much Christmas food as pork ribs and rice pudding is in Norway. Therefore, the popular cooking program Masterchef Portugal dedicate two programs to the Norwegian Clipfish, or Bacalhau de Noruega as it is known there.
A Christmas present for Norwegian Clipfish
As inspiration, jury and team leaders went to Tromsø before Christmas to film nature and the sea where their national dish comes from. The jury includes two famous Michelin star chefs, Rui Paula and Miguel Rocha Vieira. Paula is awarded a Michelin star at his famous restaurant, Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, while Vieira boasts three restaurants, each which boasts a Michelin star in Budapest.
The Seafood Council’s fisheries representative in Portugal, Johnny Thomassen, is as happy as a clam at high water:
– Portugal’s leading TV channel, TVI has dedicated two episodes at prime time during Christmas to the Norwegian Clipfish. This type of visibility is a real Christmas gift for Norwegian Clipfish. The programs will run on 22nd and 29th December, where the viewers will have the most beautiful Northern Norway have to offer right into the living room, Thomassen smiles.
Production came to Tromsø in mid-December to learn more about the origin of Portugal’s favourite food, and Northern Norway showed itself from its very best side during the two days the team was on location.
– The sea was calm, the weather was cold and clear and the snow lay deep on the peaks. They hooked lots of fish and we even got visits from some orca who hunted herring near the surface. Another highlight was the meal consisting of Norwegian traditional dishes on board the restaurant boat MS Bjørnvaag in Tromsø. I got a comment from the Production Manager that the recording couldn’t have gone better – they were delighted with the clips they brought home with them.
Celebrities visit the embassy
Masterchef is the most popular cookery program on Portuguese TV, and one of the most popular entertainment programs in the country. In the Christmas specials, two teams consisting of celebrities and former Masterchef winners will struggle to create the tastiest dishes using Norwegian Clipfish. The recording took place in the garden of the Norwegian ambassador in Portugal, Anders Erdal, and the dishes were served to him and his friends.
– It was fantastic that we got to the session in the ambassador’s residence, and incredibly sporty by the ambassador to arrange at such short notice. Arranging something like this at the embassy shows how special Clipfish is in the relationship between Portugal and Norway. There is nothing we are more familiar with here than Clipfish, Thomassen explains.
Clipfish is Christmas fish per excellence
The choice of Clipfish and the broadcasting time is far from randomly chosen. Portuguese eat bacalhau throughout the year, but it has a special role as a Christmas fish and it is very common to eat Clipfish on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
– The tradition originates from Catholicism, which in the past had many fasting days during the Christmas season where consuming meat was prohibited. Today it is said that there are 1001 recipes containing Clipfish in Portugal – more or less exactly one thousand more than the one most Norwegians are familiar with, says Thomassen.
Portugal is one of the countries in Europe where most seafood is eaten, according to FAO. It consumes 600,000 tonnes of seafood a year in Portugal, but they only fish 200,000 tonnes of their own, which means they are totally dependent on imports to meet demand. And what they eat most of is Norwegian cod. So far this year, Norway has exported Clipfish to Portugal to a value of almost NOK 4 billion.
Nor is it without reason that the Portuguese are so obsessed with Norwegian Clipfish. A total of 70 per cent of Portuguese want the Clipfish to be Norwegian, and 70 per cent of all cod in sales in Portugal is Norwegian. No other country comes close to challenging the position of the Norwegian Clipfish in Portugal, which has been present in the country for centuries. And based on how popular it is, it comes enough to be present for centuries to come.
 There is an interesting anecdote connected to this – a Catholic friar, who didn’t like fish, decreed that turtles could be defined as such, in order to circumvent the prohibition against eating meat on Friday’s.
 Portuguese Port Wine is very popular in some areas of Norway due to the barter trade, and quite a few Norwegians boast Portuguese genes for much the same reason
 Clipfish must not be confused with Stockfish, which is unsalted dried cod.