Everything you need to know about herring

Whole herring

When you think of herring, your mind might send you to Scandinavia and you might conjure up images of pickled fish with radishes and rye bread. It’s true that the herring is a big hit in Scandinavian countries and features in many national dishes, but that’s not all that this brilliant and versatile fish has to offer.

Herring: The Basics

There are around 200 different species of herring although it’s just three that are usually caught for food. They are Atlantic, Pacific and Araucanian herring. These specific species can be found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The size of a herring fish mainly depends on the species, but on average the larger ones can weigh up to 1.5 lbs. You would probably be able to spot a herring if you spotted one. They have a distinctive silver colouring that appears slightly blue on the top of their body but paler underneath, which has led to them being nicknamed the silver of the sea. The popularity of their meat has meant that the herring fishing trade is always profitable.

A Healthy Fish

By now we all know that including plenty of fish in our diets is extremely good for us, but herring is viewed as a particularly healthy option. That’s largely because it is a brilliant source of vitamin D. In fact, it has a much higher vitamin D content than almost any other kind of food. This is especially good news for us here on the British Isles as the usual grey and cloudy weather means that we don’t often get as much of the vitamin from the sun than we should. Getting enough vitamin D is incredibly important for us as it helps teeth and bones get stronger and can also reduce the risk of certain health conditions.

And that’s not all. Herring is also a good source of fatty acids, which are known to promote good heart health. They also help the brain to function properly.

Buying Herring In The UK

Even though we don’t consume a huge amount of herring, unlike our neighbors in Scandinavia, Germany and Holland, it is still plentiful around the UK. The majority of what is available to buy will be the Atlantic species, but you might be able to to find some other varieties from a specialist fishmonger. One notable point to make is that each variety of herring comes into season at different points throughout the year. Even though you might be able to find an abundance of Atlantic herring next time you visit a fishmonger, just a few months later this might change and they might have a different species on offer. At least that keeps eating herring exciting!

Maatjes herring

Maatjes herrings with diced white onion

HERRING 2 Ways! | Bart van Olphen & Treader Tube
Source: Bart's Fish Tales

 

 

Cooking And Storing Herring

Herring is a very oily fish but that shouldn’t be something that puts you off it - in fact, it’s one of its many advantages! That’s because it makes it the perfect fish to pickle, smoke or salt. Of course, you will still find it delicious if you decide to eat it fresh! But for a Scandinavian-style supper, why not try pickled herring with some crusty bread? If you do decide to pickle it, it can be stored for a good few months meaning that you will still be able to enjoy it even at the few times it is not in season.

If you want to cook yours from fresh, then you should do very shortly after buying it. Fresh herring has a short lifespan so needs to be cooked as soon as possible. If you do cook from fresh, then you can grill or fry your herring.

Do you want to enjoy your herring the Scandinavian way? If so, then you might like the idea of buying a jar of rollmops. These are also easy to make at home - you just need to roll up the herring fillets and secure by piercing a cocktail stick through them. You then need to boil the rollmops in a mixture of water and vinegar. Add a bay leaf and sliced onion for extra flavour. Once cooked, put the rollmops into a jar and add the water and vinegar mixture. Once properly sealed, you can then store the herring this way for about a week before they are ready to eat. These can be eaten cold, straight out of the jar.

If you want to try smoked herring, there are a few different types of sample. You might have heard of the likes of kippers before, but have you already come across bucklings and bloaters? These are all types of smoked herring and are often served cold. Kippers make a remarkably good breakfast!

Herring roe is another firm favourite in Scandinavian countries and could be something to try if you are feeling particularly adventurous with your food!

As you can see, herring really is a very diverse type of fish. We’re sure fish lovers will really enjoy digging into its many varieties, whether pickled, smoked or fresh! Not only that, though, thanks to its numerous varieties that aren’t at threat from over fishing, this could be the fish of the future!

 Roll mops

Traditional rollmops

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