Pickled Herring Recipes 3 ways

Make your own herring curried with chives, apple herring with leek and parsley or ginger and orange herring with dill and mint.

| May/June 2020


Photo by 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 flavors 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 flavorings, 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 ready-pickled plain version (often with onions, carrots and peppercorns in the brine) and add the sauce of your liking. Leave the flavors 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.

I have had a lot of different flavors of pickled herring, including teriyaki! It is a surprisingly rich dish. You could serve a selection as a starter to a Swedish-inspired 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 favorite ways to make pickled herring. Fresh flavors, like herbs, spice and citrus, are often added to herring marinades as they work so well with the richness of the fish. The orange and ginger here don’t dominate at all, rather they just add a delicate hint of flavor. For stronger results, you can leave the herring to marinate for a little longer or overnight.



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