Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Pickled Herrings

Once I get an idea in my head, that's it; I can't think of much else. I recently had a conversation with someone about Ikea and the foodstuffs you can purchase there and one thought of those little chunks of herring pickled in those jars, be it in sweet mustard or just dill, got the craving going. I wasn't about to attempt a trip to the Croydon warehouse of hellishness, so I set about making them myself.

I started off with Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall's recipe and went from there. Two different fish counters were scoured before I found the herrings that I needed, and for some unknown reason I even had a little cry when I gutted a pregnant herring, full of roe. Emotional stuff. The herrings were messily filleted - my knife 'skills' need work - and they sat in brine for a couple of hours while the pickling solution was cooling.

Pickled Herring

6 herrings
60gr salt

Gut and fillet the herrings - don't worry too much about bones as they are very fine and will soften when pickled. Dissolve the salt in 500ml water and place the fillets in it to brine for a couple of hours.

Pickle solution:

6 juniper berries
1 tsp mustard seeds
4 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
600ml cider vinegar
6 tbsp light brown sugar
1 small onion, sliced very thinly
A handful of dill

Place all of it except the dill in a small sauce pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and then leave to cool. Roll the fillets up and pack into a sterilised 1 litre jar or container. Rip the dill roughly and add it in. Pour the solution over your fillets and seal, storing in the fridge.

Hugh's recipe recommends you leave them for at least 5 days, but you can leave them up to a month. I left mine for 6 days before I tucked in. You may notice in the photo that there are strips of orange rind in the pickle solution too; I didn't find this very successful, it was too... orangey. So I'd leave them out. Otherwise, they were delicious. Slightly sweet, properly pickled and firm of flesh. They went beautifully with this summer salad.

Pickled Herring & Potato Salad

Serves 2

5 or 6 large new potatoes
A large handful of broad beans
150gr asparagus spears
7 or 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Half a red onion
2 pickled herring fillets


4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp dill, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing ingredients together well. Meanwhile, set the potatoes on to cook in boiling salted water. I used frozen broad beans so I blanched them and then peeled them of their tough skins. Cook the asparagus until al dente. Toss the broad beans into the dressing and when the potatoes are cooked, halve them and add to the dressing while hot so that they soak it up.

To serve, scatter the asparagus on a plate and top with the broad bean and potato mixture. Halve the tomatoes and add on top with thinly sliced red onion. Finally, slice each herring fillet into 3 large chunks and place carefully on top.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Gah. Now you've got me craving them, too... That looks like quite a mild cure which, I think, I prefer when it comes to herrings. Madsen's restaurant in S Ken does a good one.

With potato salad? Perfect for summer. :)

Helena Lee said...

you make it sound so easy (except the crying stumbling block of course) even for the virgin pickler.

I could eat pickled herring straight out of the jar these sound top.

Greedy Diva said...

You're so clever, Lizzie. I'm way to lazy for this one - OR a trip to Ikea (aargh!)

Pavel said...

Pickled Herring reminds me of being chased by Giant Seagulls on the Dutch coast. This salad sounds really nice and fresh for summer though!

To this day gutting fish is one of my least favourite tasks but I don't think I've ever cried when I've spotted roe before :^P

The Grubworm said...

That all seems pretty damn straightforward. Mind you, the six-day wait would tax my patience. But for a pickled fish, I could probably do it.

So much easier than smoking, burying (someone told me that's how gravlax is made) or most other forms of preserving though. And probably even tastier withough all those preservatives that find their way into commercially made pickles.

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

I love pickled herrings but even though I happily pickle all sorts of stuff myself, it hadn't occurred to me to make my own rollmops. This recipe is going on my to-try-really-soon list - thanks for the inspiration!

German said...

pickled herrings are my worst nightmire, i really i dont understand why i dont like them, becasue i love pickled sardines!

Sandra said...

Wow, that looks amazing! I'm Swedish and obviously a massive herring fan, but I've never tried pickling it myself. Oh, I also came across a pregnant herring the other day, and funnily enough - it made me cry too! So incredibly melancholic with all those little roes.

Helen said...

mmmmm tasty pickles. I love the way the flesh stays so firm with pickled fish. When I pickled some trout I couldn't stop nipping to the fridge, picking one out and dangling it into my mouth like gollum. My precious...

Corina said...

I've got to try this. I used to live in Poland and they eat loads of pickled fish and I really miss it here.

Jonathan said...

Nice work. Pickled herring, when done well, are awesome.

I think you need to pay a visit to "Herring Island" AKA Kladesholmen where 80% of Sweden's pickled herring are prepared. You'd love it. Way better than having to go to IKEA.