Our recent trip to West Sweden brought us plenty of surprises – but the biggest surprise of them all was its food. The shellfish in West Sweden is said to be some of the best in the world, thanks to the region’s cold, clean waters. During our visit, we sampled everything from lobster au gratin to traditional Swedish fish stew and mussels in garlic and butter – all of them were outrageously delicious, but none compared to the fresh-from-the-sea crabs and shrimps dished up at Everts Sjobod.
Run by a pair of brothers, Everts Sjobod specializes in bringing guests out to sea from their restored 19th century boathouse. This culinary journey, which they’ve named “shellfish safari” allows guests to learn how fishermen in the area catch their shellfish and how they’re traditionally prepared in Sweden. They then prepare a feast of seafood for the guests to indulge in after the sailing trip.
A Unique Culinary Journey
We had the opportunity to join the brothers, Per and Lors Karlsson, on their beloved wooden schooner, Tuffa. Having grown up in the area, both brothers have always had an affinity to the sea. To pursue their passion in fishing, they’d sold their furniture business to start this company. Today, it’s one of the most popular seafood safari companies on West Sweden’s Bohuslän coast.
Per, the younger one out of the two brothers, was our guide for the day. Lors, the quieter one, was our captain. As we sailed out into the Baltic Sea, Per quizzed us, “Did you know that 90% of Sweden’s oysters come from here?”
As he explained, Grebbestad is known amongst the Swedes as the shellfish capital of the country. This is where the Gulf streams and the Baltic streams meet, resulting in nutrient-rich water perfect for the growth of shellfish. In fact, Grebbestad provides almost 50% of Sweden’s lobsters and 70% of its crayfish.
Just as Per amused us of his childhood stories and fishing tales, we soon arrived at the spot where we would catch our first batch of crabs. With a pair of gloves on his hands, he bent over the boat’s bow and started pulling up the trap they had left in the water the day before. In a skilful and patient manner, he retrieved the trap and there they were, over eight gigantic crabs all fidgeting to get out of the entrapment. One of them was so big that even Per was amazed, “This has to be the biggest crab I’ve ever caught!”
Grebbestad is known amongst the Swedes as the shellfish capital of the country. This is where the Gulf streams and the Baltic streams meet, resulting in nutrient-rich water perfect for the growth of shellfish. In fact, Grebbestad provides almost 50% of Sweden’s lobsters and 70% of its crayfish.
Reaping Our Rewards
After spending an hour or so out at sea, we headed back to the brothers’ boathouse where Per fished out fresh oysters from the sea, right at their doorstep, for us to sample. Clearly an expert, Per showed us how to shuck the oyster and eat it. We slurped up the soft, savory oyster sheer minutes after catching it from the water – and without a doubt, it was the best I’ve ever had.
Having grown up here in Grebbestad, the brothers have shucked oysters since they were kids. In fact, they love oysters so much that they’d created the Oyster Day in Grebbestad – a day to commemorate their pride and joy. n 2004, the brothers also started the Oyster Academy, an institution to impart scientific and culinary knowledge to fishermen, restaurant owners, and general seafood enthusiasts. His older brother Lors even won third place in Sweden’s oyster championship and is now ranked fifth in Europe.
Dinner in their boathouse was a serious affair: a feast of freshly boiled crabs, giant prawns, and shrimps all piled up sky high on the table just for the two of us.
The brothers’ passion for shellfish was even more evident in their cooking. Dinner in their boathouse was a serious affair: a feast of freshly boiled crabs, giant prawns, and shrimps all piled up sky high on the table. It was an enormous meal considering there were just the two of us. We didn’t care about getting our hands dirty — we grabbed the claws and dug our way through the heaps of shellfish. The crabs and shrimps were so sweet and juicy I had to lick my fingers to savor every bit of them. I asked Per later for the secret ingredient, he answered cheekily, “It’s a secret.”
Crab fishing is the best in summer, from June to September. Lobster safaris take place every September to December, while oyster safaris are all year round.
At Everts Sjobod, the price for a crab safari is 690 SEK per person (US$105). To include a small oyster course, you can pay an extra 250 SEK ($38) per person. The lobster safari costs 850 SEK ($130)and an oyster safari is 790 SEK ($120) per person.
These prices include a boat trip, protective clothing during cold weather, as well as a full meal.