Pickled herring

Pickled herring

By
From
Lagom
Photographer
Yuki Sugiura

Here comes a confession. I have never pickled my own herring. I have watched others do it, seen the effort and work that goes into it, but I have never tried it myself. To be honest, I don’t know many Swedes who have. What is much more common is to buy lightly pickled herring and then add flavours to it. This may seem like cheating, but the quality of a lot of pickled herring is really good and, in my opinion, much more reliable than the quality of fresh herring outside Scandinavia. You can buy pickled herring for further pickling (sounds strange, but true). This is ready preserved without any flavourings, essentially a blank canvas for you to add your own brine and then mix with sauce of your choice; we call these pickling herring or 5-minute herring. However, these can be difficult to find, so my suggestion would be to get a readypickled plain version (often with onions, carrots and peppercorns in the brine) and add the sauce of your liking. Leave the flavours to infuse for a few hours or overnight before serving.

In Sweden, we have two types of herring: strömming and sill. They are often confused by visitors, but basically they are the same type of fish, just found in slightly different places. Strömming is found on the east coast and because of the low levels of salt in the waters there, are slightly smaller than sill, which is fished off the southern and western coasts. Sill is probably the closest thing to the larger Atlantic herring found in the UK and what we tend to use for pickling.

Curried herring I have had a lot of different flavours of pickled herring, including teriyaki! It is a surprisingly rich dish. You could serve a selection as a starter to a Swedishinspired supper, or quite easily turn them into a full meal by adding some boiled potatoes with lots of butter and dill, crispbread and a selection of cheeses. Here are three of my favourite ways to make pickled herring.

Curried herring with chives

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 jar plain pickled herring
100g creme fraiche
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons medium curry powder
1 small bunch chives
1/2 red onion, finely chopped

Method

  1. Drain the herring and remove any bits of vegetables or spices.
  2. Mix the crème fraîche, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice together in a large bowl. Add the curry powder and most of the chives, then fold through the herring.
  3. Refrigerate for a few hours, then serve topped with the remaining chives and red onion.

Apple herring with leek & parsley

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, finely sliced
100g creme fraiche
75g light mayonnaise
2 apples, cored and finely chopped, with a few wedges chopped into matchsticks
1 small bunch curly parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 jar plain pickled herring
few dill sprigs, to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and lightly fry the leek for a few minutes, until just starting to wilt but still retaining all of its colour. Spread the leek out onto a plate to cool completely.
  2. Mix the crème fraîche, mayonnaise, leek, chopped apples and parsley together in a large bowl. Stir in the apple juice and season with salt and pepper. Drain the herring, discarding any bits of carrot, onion, spices, etc.
  3. Add to the sauce, then refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight, before serving sprinkled with dill and the apple matchsticks.

Ginger & orange herring with dill & mint

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 jar plain pickled herring
1 orange
1 small thumb fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 small bunch dill, roughly chopped
1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Set a sieve over a wide jug or bowl and drain the herring, reserving the pickling liquid.
  2. Use a sharp knife to peel the orange, avoiding the bitter white pith. Finely chop the peel and add to the liquid. Squeeze the orange and add the juice to the liquid with the grated ginger. Remove the herring from the sieve, avoiding any bits of vegetable or herbs and add the fish to the pickling liquid.
  3. Refrigerate for a few hours and then serve sprinkled with the fresh herbs.
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