I come from a country that used to have a huge herring tradition and industry. Unfortunately, the little fish fell out of fashion and with its fall from grace fell also the industry. Alright, that’s enough lamenting for the loss of the herring industry in Scotland.
To today. I live in the Netherlands, Amsterdam, where, there is still a great appetite for herring. In fact it is celebrated. Every year, around this time, the fish are deemed to be large enough to eat and are harvested from the North Sea, mostly from around the Danish coast.
The Dutch can’t even wait long enough to cook the herring! The most traditional, and popular way to eat it is raw, yes, raw. I can understand for a lot of you that could be a bit of a leap, but believe me it is delicious. I love to eat it with some pickled gherkins and finely chopped onion. This is a great tip if you are new to eating raw herring as it is an acquired taste and with these other flavours it can make it a bit more palatable.
That’s all very well, but why bother? Well, another reason apart from the fact that it tastes great is that herring is really healthy, it’s packed full of omega 3 fats which we hear so much about and are so integral to a healthy body. A raw herring is for me, the ultimate fast food. If you are on the go, just pick one up at any fish shop, market or herring stall. I have noticed when I eat herring that it keeps me full for quite a long time due to the fact that it’s a high protein food with healthy fats. The other thing I love about herring is that it is totally natural, organic and sustainable.
If you are looking for some ways to eat herring, try serving it with drinks, just raw with some Spanish sherry is great, or with some Chablis. If you would prefer to cook it, try the traditional Scottish way of coating it in some oatmeal and frying quickly in a hot non-stick pan. Serve with a green salad and some pickled beetroot or with some horseradish on the side.
To be totally topical, just in case you haven’t noticed, the European football tournament starts today and the first match that the Netherlands play is against Denmark, so what could be more topical than to serve herring caught in Danish waters and devoured by the Dutch!