I’m going to open with a Herring-Recipe-Fuelled rant folks. As far as I can see, commercial, pre-packed rollmops have slowly but surely destroyed every chance that our “Silver Darlings” ever had of being lauded as the luxuriously inexpensive treat that they truly are. And what have been offered in exchange for this? I’ll tell you shall I? A very shabby mouthful of vinegar and a textured lump masquerading as a fish (which coincidently, is right up my Culinary Nightmare Street with crab sticks). Instead we could be offering a standing-ovation-and-hats-off-applause to subtle, velvety fish that single handedly expanded our Scottish fishing villages of the 50’s and 60’s. We owe these fish a debt of gratitude; and like so many of our indigenous Scottish water fish it deserves a reintroduction to our tables both at home and abroad.
This herring recipe is just perfect for me as I like it slightly sweet – do feel free to omit some of the sugar if you prefer a bit more nip. The herring will stay submerged in the marinade quite happily for weeks and months – in fact I think it improves over time. Its great in a sandwich, a salad or on top of a homemade pizza! I love eating this with me good friend the Jersey Royal, although herring goes well with so many foods. Experiment a little with beetroot, watercress, apple, horseradish, capers, crispy onions….. go on, go wild!
My one top tip – get as much fish as you can, spend a little time on it and it will happily see you through an entire summer. Bliss.
10 VERY fresh herrings ask your monger to butterfly them for you.
2 teaspoons of salt
300ml cider vinegar
150g caster sugar
4 grinds of fresh white pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 fresh bay leaves
1 carrot finely sliced
2 shallots finely sliced
6 juniper berries crushed
Rind of 1 orange (keep the juice in an ice cube tray for a future recipe…I will remember!)
Rind of 1 lemon
Lay the fish skin side down on a tray with a slight lip.
Sprinkle the salt evenly over the flesh, wrap in cling film and fridge for 2 hours to start the curing.
Remove from the fridge and gently BUT not thoroughly wash off the salt and pat the fish dry, place in a plastic container big enough so that the fish can be stored in no more than 3 layers.
Bring all the remaining ingredients together to the boil and immediately remove from the heat and allowing to cool.
Pour this over the fish making sure its completely covered, place a lid on or cling film on top and store in the fridge for at least 1 day before diving in.
Easiest way to serve is get some torn lettuce and bread spoon over some of the vegetables and marinade and plonk a darling on top! Yum.