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Feb 10, 2008 01:09 PM

Herring: How do you eat it?

I grew up on herring. It was a ritual for my dad to tale some fresh herring to my grandmothers on Thurs. and pick it up pickled on Sat. Mixed with sour cream and sliced onions, heaped on great corn rye bread, it was a memorable part of my youth. A herring salad w/ herring, beets and whipped cream was a Christmas treat.
During the 70's & 80's, we lived in Norway and Finland and ate not only a wide array of pickled herring, but fresh, fried with potatoes and onions. We loved eatind new herring fillets, slathered in diced raw onion in the Netherlands(and the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station).
Here in Maine I'm pretty limited to Nathan's and Skansen pickled and Roland canned. When we visit my mom's in the NYC area, we come back loaded with jars of IKEA's ABBA brand and ACME and Lowells pickled herring. Although it used to be common it Maine, fresh herring is tough to find. How do you enjoy herring?

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  1. I love smoked herring and pickled herring. My dad is of polish descent and I grew up with pickled herring in sour cream and I can eat a whole jar of that in one sitting. My favorite is the pickled herring in the plain brine though, it has a cleaner flavor and more of a texture that I like. For smoked herring I eat it on rye bread with butter that's it and that's enough to satisfy me. Oddly enough I've never had fresh herring but would love to try it.

    1. growing up in NJ there were three ways of eating herring:

      1 - pickled herring in cream sauce with onions
      2 - pickled herring in wine sauce
      3 - chopped herring

      Jfood fell into bucket #1. He loved pickled herring from Superior Fish Store in Elizabeth, Kartzman's in Union, Tabatchniks and Bagle Chateau in Millburn and Livingston Bagel in Livingston. All on a bagel. Mrs jfood was a chopped herring gal on a bagel.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Pretty much sums up growing up in NY. I was big on matjes herring. With pumpernickel. I've never seen anything like matjes herring on the west coast, much less pumpernickel. We can get some version of pickled herring in sour cream in a jar. What I miss and don't even find much in NY anymore is what we used to call an "appetizing store," that sold all that stuff by the pound, along with lox, white fish, sable. When I was growing up they were just regular stores in the neighborhood, not big upscale production numbers.

        1. re: Judith

          judith, if you need a "fix" you can always order from barney greengrass...

          as for the demise of appetizing stores in NY, let's be thankful that at least BG, Russ & Daughters and Zabar's are still standing.

      2. Just recieved a care package from Norway and my brother sent several bottles of Delikat pepper sild and appetitt sild so now breakfast is now my favorite meal. Sliced hard boiled eggs on rye toast, a little mayo and Norwegian pickled herring. The best.

        5 Replies
        1. re: currymouth

          Curry, that's what we had for breakfast this morning and gjietost too. Ahhh, matches herring in dill sauce on kneckebrod, w/ butter, sliced hard boiled egg a slice of agurke (pickle) and a little squeeze of mayo. Himmelen pa jordet! (Heaven on earth!). We just got in from the Banff film festival and there was a long entry about rock jumping off the fjords near Stavanger. Prekkestolen? I lived in Stavanger for 5 yrs. and my eldest son who was born there now lives in Korea. Hey how about a little farekol? Yum. But I would really love en polser med rekker salad (a hot dog w/ shrimp salad). Here on the coast of Maine, we get the same sweet North Atlantic shrimp as in Norway, for only about $.75 a lb. We have rekker smorbrod every Sun. for supper. Had det godt.

          1. re: Passadumkeg

            growing up in Goteborg, my idea of himmelen pa jordet was herring in mustard sauce. i also enjoyed the tomato with sweet onion sauce... with some black bread toasts. Har det sa bra!

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              Remember going to the grocery in Horten with my grandfather, and picking out herring from those big plastic barrels, 5or6 different types, but my favorite was always the herring in red wine sauce. along with the smoked salmon and peeled shrimp. Still have about 5 kilos of polser I smuggled back last year, I try to only eat 2 at time to make it last.

              1. re: currymouth

                Good Grief, curry! I think I want to be at your herring barrel!

                What do you do with the pickled delights? (Save eating them?)


                1. re: cayjohan

                  Went back home last year and found that those barrels are now a thing of the past. now mostly in glass jars, but still enjoyable never the less.
                  We still have openface sandwiches on sunday. Several cheeses, shrimp, salmon,spreads, hard boiled eggs,cold cuts, and pickled herring. some things never change. I find it a way to reaffirm my heritage and remember my youth.

          2. When I was in Boston in the 1960's, I used to by smoked herring filets at Stop n Shop. Hard dry salty things - great with beer (hey, I was a college student then ;)

            1. Herring is the King of fish...according to my Dad, with whom I have many fish conversations.

              I am a Minnesota native, Finnish descendent, resident of Finland for a long time. Herring is a wonderful fish. Pickled, in the U.S., it can make your cocktail table. If you love the fish in its natural state, perhaps re-visit the Scandinavian countries, or the Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. Fresh lake herring, gutted and grilled, are spectacular on the table on Superior shores. Fresh-caught, lightly-breaded Lake Superior herring is hard to beat. (I can give you a restaurant name if you like.)

              Get it fresh when you can, pickled when you can't get it fresh, and enjoy it every bite. Beautiful fish, beauiful flavor, however you prepare it.

              Loving herring in every incarnation,


              1 Reply
              1. re: cayjohan

                I recall having, at a breakfast buffet in Helsinki, herring pickled in a red wine sauce, deep,purple in colour. Delicious! I haven't been able to find it anywhere ever since.