Herring (Clupea harengus).

Herring fish have been caught around the world for many thousands of years.  The most abundant species belong to the genus Clupea, there are about 200 species of various herring.  They are found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific, also North Atlantic oceans, the Baltic Sea, and the west coast of South America.

Copy @ All Rights reserved 2012. Vesa Leinonen.

In the Scandinavian and the Nordic region the Baltic Herrings were a very important food source along with the Herring and the sprats (Sprattus sprattus). Herring’s were salted in wooden drums for the coming winter, an oily fish similar to anchovies and sardines that could also be pickled, smoked and cooked as a casserole with potatoes, bacon and onions.  Oily fish are a good source of vitamin A, D and the Omega 3. Oily fish and forage fish also can contain contaminants like mercury and dioxin.

Pickled herring also known as Bismarck herrings, it has been a delicacy in Europe for centuries.

The pickling of Baltic herrings is prepared usually in 3 stages: 1. Cleaning and gutting. 2. Soaked in salted pickle over night, drained and finally the third stage placing the herring filets into the final pickle that was briefly brought to boil containing vinegar with spices, onions, peppers and flavor giving vegetables.

The traditional preserving and cooking method of herring used basic ingredients at the time, salt for smoking with various wood types, e.g. apple tree or aspen.

For pickling the ingredients used were; white vinegar, onions, dill, peppers, spice, salt and maybe at better days red wine or sherry.  As the food culture grew and experimented with ingredients from other cultures then spices, herbs and vegetables from other cultures got acceptance and became more widely used.  The following recipe uses fennel, ginger and kafir lime for a broader flavor range. Enjoy.

Pickled spicy herring Recipe: Ginger, lime and fennel.
Baltic herring.   1kg.
Red onion.       400g.
Fennel.            1.
Dill.                 1 bunch.
Ginger.            25 gram.
Dill seeds.        1 tbsp.
Lime peel.        1 lime.
Kafir leaves.     4.
Schezuan pepper. 1 tbsp.

Stock A.
White wine vinegar.    200ml.
Water.                      100ml.
Salt.            1 tbsp.

Stock B.
White wine vinegar.     100ml.
Water.                        500ml.
Sugar.                        150g.
Salt.             4 tbsp.
Lime juice.    4 limes.


1. Clean the Baltic herrings from both ends.
2. Combine the ingredients for the first marinade, place the fish filets in a glass jar, pour the first marinade into the gloss jar over the fish, close and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours, until the color of the fish has changed to white color.
3. Prepare the vegetables by cutting into fine slices or dice and the other flavor adding ingredients and the second marinade.
4. Drain the first marinade off the fish filets well in a strainer.
5. Add some flavor adding ingredients to the jar, followed by a layer of fish fillets, and keep alternating the fish filets with the flavor ingredients until the jar is full.
6. pour the second marinade into the jar over the fish.
7. Refrigerate for a couple of days, every now and then turn the jar upside down and shake to mix the vinegar with the flavor adding ingredients and to distribute the marinade well over the fish fillets.

Serve with crisp rye bread, butter, cheese and a suitable beverage.

Recipe source. SILLI & SILAKKA. Leif Mannerstrom. Atena.

Happy Spring season and many prosperous Farmers markets and fish market herring endeavors in the near future.