Marinirte (pickled) Herring Recipe
History of Pickled Herring:
Pickled herring has a long history, dating back several centuries. It is a traditional dish in many countries, particularly in Northern Europe, where herring is abundant. Herring was an important food source in these regions and preserving it through pickling allowed people to enjoy this nutritious fish during the colder months when fresh herring was not readily available.
The process of pickling herring involves marinating the fish in a vinegar-based solution, which not only enhances its flavor but also acts as a natural preservative. Over time, different cultures developed their own variations of pickled herring, incorporating unique ingredients and methods of preparation.
In the 17th century, pickled herring became especially popular in the Netherlands, giving rise to the tradition of eating "maatjesharing" or new herring. "Maatjesharing" refers to immature herring caught between May and July, which are considered to be the most tender and flavorful. This tradition continues to this day, and the Dutch celebrate the arrival of new herring with festive events and special herring stalls.
Recipe for Pickled Herring:
- New Holland herring (8-10 fillets)
- 1 cup milk or water
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 6 cloves
- 10-12 whole peppers
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon whole mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 cup vinegar
1. Start by preparing the herring. Remove the heads and scales from the herring fillets. Rinse them well under cold water to remove any remaining scales or impurities. Open the fillets and gently remove the milch (roe), if present. Set aside the herring and milch.
2. Place the herring and milch in a bowl and cover them with milk or water. Allow them to soak overnight. This step helps to remove any excess saltiness and enhances the flavor of the herring.
3. The following day, drain and pat dry the herring fillets. Set them aside for now.
4. In a stone jar or similar container, layer the herring fillets with the sliced onions and lemon slices. Add the cloves, whole peppers, bay leaves, capers, and whole mustard seed between the layers.
5. In a separate bowl, rub the milch through a hair sieve to create a smooth sauce. The more milch you have, the better the sauce will be. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the milch and stir well to combine.
6. Pour the vinegar into the milch mixture and stir again. This vinegar mixture will act as the pickling solution for the herring.
7. Carefully pour the milch and vinegar mixture over the herring fillets, ensuring that they are fully submerged. The pickling solution should cover the herring entirely.
8. Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dry place for at least 24 hours. During this time, the herring will absorb the flavors of the pickling solution and develop its characteristic tangy taste.
9. After 24 hours, the pickled herring is ready to be enjoyed. Serve it as an appetizer, on bread, or as part of a traditional Scandinavian Smorgasbord. The pickled herring can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Pickled herring is a versatile dish that can be prepared in various ways. Here are a few other popular pickled herring recipes from different cultures:
- Matjes Herring: This traditional Dutch pickled herring is made with young herring fillets marinated in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices. It is often served with chopped onions and eaten on bread or with potatoes.
- Rollmops: A German variation, rollmops consists of pickled herring fillets rolled around a savory filling such as pickles, onions, or mustard. It is typically served as a snack or appetizer.
- Bismarck Herring: This Swedish-style pickled herring is flavored with a combination of spices and often served with potatoes, sour cream, and chopped chives. It is a staple dish during Swedish Midsummer celebrations.
- Soused Herring: This British version of pickled herring involves marinating the fillets in a sweet and tangy vinegar solution, often flavored with onions, cloves, and allspice. It is commonly served with bread or as part of a ploughman's lunch.
Whether enjoyed in traditional dishes or incorporated into contemporary recipes, pickled herring continues to be a beloved delicacy and a symbol of culinary heritage in many cultures around the world.