Filleting in the factory

Can you have a special relationship with Cod? For Jacob de Vries, from Urk in the Netherlands, this is his life's work. Jacob hand-fillets fine fish, such as the Norwegian Winter Cod, Skrei, in his factory for the BINCA Group.

Filleting with a passion

Jacob was born and raised in Urk. Since a young age, he dreamed about catching a career in fishing. This goes without saying for someone from Urk, where fishing has been the main source of livelihood for generations in the Dutch province of Flevoland.

However, Jacob chosen his own way. He is a "fish-whisperer", he understands and hand-fillets fish. Above all, Cod speaks to him the most. He is fascinated by the beauty of this fish, its skin, and its luster. That´s why his motto is "beyond cod", which he interprets to mean something along the lines of: to highlight the value of a fish through his own work, and improve it.

Jacob always also sees the history behind his products, and the effort it takes for the fishermen to catch it sustainably. Especially when it comes to the delicacy, Skrei.

Skrei - A Seasonal Delicacy

Skrei is an Arctic Winter Cod, which can only be found during the winter months and is caught off of the northwest coast of Norway, north of the Arctic Circle. This luxurious fish is available from the beginning of January till the end of April.

The name "Skrei" comes from the Norse word "skrida", which means "to wander". When the Skrei is between five and seven years old its journey begins. The Skrei migrates a thousand Kilometers every year, from the icy Arctic Barents Sea all the way to the Norwegian Lofoten Islands, so that it may spawn in its birthplace. It is at this time that the Norwegian fishermen of the Lofoten Islands embark on their biggest fishing adventure of the year. The fishermen catch the Skrei sustainably, using bottom long-lines that are spread horizontally along the seabed. The Skrei is MSC certified.

Quality from Catch to Customer

Immediately after the catch, the Skrei has to bleed completely and cleaned immediately with seawater on board. Within four hours the cleaned fish must be back on land, without any interruptions of the cold chain, and only then do the best quality fish receive the title Skrei. Within 12 hours after the catch, the Skrei must be packaged and put on ice, at a temperature between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius. Special Skrei controllers check the processing companies daily.

Jacob de Vries knows the story of his Skrei: he knows where his fish comes from, who caught it, how it lives, its anatomy, its flesh and how it should taste. Thus, the filleting process is much more that simply routine. It involves emotion, and a special bond between man and fish that must be forged. Every Skrei is different, and Jacob brings the best out of every fish. This level of quality requires a certain fineness that can only be achieved through manual work. Jacob considers filleting Cod to be his masterwork.