The Seven Best Ways of Enjoying Herring

The Seven Best Ways of Enjoying Herring

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The Seven Best Ways of Enjoying Herring

The Seven Best Ways of Enjoying Herring

© Shutterstock

Herring devotees around the world claim their treatment of this oily fish brimming with omega 3 to be the best way to enjoy this catch, which historically created great wealth for Danish, English, French and Dutch traders.

Lithuanians have more than one hundred methods for preparing herrings, including with mushrooms. Surely now is the time to revive the popularity of this immensely versatile and sustainable fish, and perhaps its fortunes too. Here are the seven best ways of enjoying herring – around the globe.

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Dutch Herring

There are whole festivals dedicated to celebrating the arrival of the new season Hollandse Nieuwe (Dutch new) spring herrings. The herrings are lightly cured in vinegar or wine. The first barrel of Hollandse Nieuwe is traditionally sold at auction for charity. These cured herrings are traditionally held by the tail, dipped in chopped onions and lowered down the throat. Today, however, they are usually cut into bite-size pieces and eaten with a cocktail stick with the Dutch flag. They are enjoyed with Bockbier, a beer with a honeyed depth of flavour, followed by a chaser shot of Jenever, the original gin and a pure spirit.

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Scandinavian Herring

Pickled herrings packed into barrels have been a Scandinavian staple since medieval times. A good fishmonger will offer a choice of mustard, onion, lingonberry and other flavours. Pickled herrings are often eaten for breakfast, although they make an equally good and healthy lunch or supper accompanied by dark rye bread, Swedish knäckebröd, i.e. crisp bread, sour cream and often potatoes. A choice of pickled herrings is invariably part of midsummer festivities, and really should be partnered with a shot of akvavit.

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French

Herring Saur, a salted, dried and smoked herring from Dieppe in Normandy, was once associcated with poverty but is now revered. It was even used as a currency in the Middle Ages. Traditionally, during carnival in February, kippers were thrown from the town hall to the crowd. An Alsatian tradition often served in French bistros is a herring and potato salad, known as Harengs Pommes à l’Huile. The saltiness of the pickled herrings compliments the creaminess of simple boiled potatoes, all bound together with a tangy red onion vinaigrette.

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Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia

A salad composed of herring preserved in salt and spice brine (buy www.dacha.co.uk) covered with layers of grated boiled vegetables including carrots, potato and beetroot, chopped onions, and mayonnaise, and often finished with grated apple and chopped hard-boiled egg, is colloquially known as “herring under a fur coat.” This salad is traditionally served on New Year’s Eve, though it is so popular it is eaten year round. Forshmak (Yiddish for foretaste) is a light, tangy paté made with salted herring fillets in oil with green apples and onion and served on rye bread or as a filling for devilled eggs.

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East European Ashkenazi Jewry around the World

Chopped herring is a potent tradition among Eastern European Jewry, known as Ashkenazi Jews around the world. Postcards, posters, stamps and paintings depict the fish, its fishing and consumption in all its glory. Chopped herring is made from schmaltz herring, as it is known in Yiddish, which is cured by being covered with coarse salt and left with a weight on top for up to four days and soaked for several days more to remove the salt. In Israel, chopped herring is known as dag maluach and served finely chopped, mixed with a little mild onion, hardboiled egg and tart apple. Polish Jews like to add caster sugar, whilst the Ukrainian speciality is to add soured cream.

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Japanese

Preserving herring is integral to the cuisine of Hokkaido Island, close to the Russian border in Japan. The herring is served with a tangle of buckwheat soba noodles in a hot broth made from tsuyu sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). Its flavour is delicate yet intensely savoury. It is cleansing and comforting after a bout of feasting or as a warming comfort food on a cold day.

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British Ways with Herring

No Victorian breakfast would have been complete without a kipper: herring split, gutted, salted and cold smoked overnight. Craster in Northumberland is synonymous with kippers and the scent of fishy wood smoke permeates the air in this coastal village, and kippers remain de rigueur as a morning ritual, served with poached egg, spinach and hollandaise for a splendid start to the day. The Scottish are inordinately fond of herring especially coated in pinhead oatmeal and fried in bacon fat, then garnished with strips of bacon.

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