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What to do with smoked herring?

My neighborhood Gristedes (!) has packages of "smoked herring", in with the meats and fish. These don't look like anything I'm used to -- not like chubs, or kippered herring. They look like big, dry anchovy filets, 4 or 5 inches long, dark brown and flat, and packed a bunch (?) to a container. I asked the fish guy what to do with them, but he just rolled his eyes and said, "Cook 'em". Thanks a bunch.

So my question: what are they, and what do I do with them? Thanks

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  1. Bake them in a sauce (any good tomato based sauce works just fine), grill them on the BBQ, chop them up in salads, use them in sandwiches (either as fillets or chopped and mixed with a cream cheese, sour cream or mayonnaise sauce) include them as an ingredient in pasta dishes. or just serve them as a main protein with a perhaps a lemon/butter sauce.

    1. I grew up eating smoked herring that my great grandfather smoked himself in Nova Scotia in a smoke shake - we only eat them on crackers as a snack. Slice the filet into maybe 1 inch squares and put on a cracker with maybe cream cheese. They are very salty, I've never cooked with them.

      1. Smoked herring, crackers and beer on a Saturday afternoon makes you happy you're alive. Throw in some sharp cheddar and hot cherry peppers and call it supper.
        I've never cooked them. They are quite salty. Your fish guy doesn't know about smoked herring if all he said was cook 'em.

        5 Replies
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          The consensus seems to be -- just eat 'em (more or less). So I'll give it a try - depending on how tough or salty they are. Anyway, at $2.50 or so a package, no great loss if it doesn't work. Thanx all.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Hey, bushwickgirl, I'm comin' to your place on Saturday. I'll bring my own glass (gotta contribute something to that feast) ;>}

            1. re: todao

              Todao-You have a standing invite...

              hlbones, a word of caution, smoked herring have an, um, aroma, in case you hadn't noticed. Keep them well wrapped in the frig or you'll have smoky fish or fishy smoke-scented everything.
              Eat smaller pieces, rather than larger. Savor the smoky, salty chewiness. Yum.

            2. re: bushwickgirl

              You may have never cooked it but a stew of browned onions,the smoked herring pieced up and deboned(as much as you can, the thinner bones become softned and edible enough that they wont cause a problem) and a can of tomatoes,creating a west indian salt fish style is yummy for daysl.Served on top of a bed of polenta\coucou (west indian name for polenta) You got a dish thats a classic.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I buy several different kinds of smoked fish from a Russian deli. I get the larger whole smoked herring and just use a fork to pick off the shiny brown skin (with a lot of the salt) and then use the fork to lift off most of the fillets on each side of the backbone. My kids like to suck the fishy salt flavor out of the head. I'm not quite that adventurous.

                Secondly I buy kippered herring in cans, if I can't get them in bulk as 'blind robins'. Polar is the best brand, because they are actually smoked red (red herrings) and have a deeper, richer taste. The meat from either type can be smooshed up with a fork into a block of softened cream cheese or neufchatel cheese. Spread on toasted, buttered bagels, with thin sliced hot white onions (mexican bulb onions are perfect!) or capers, just as you would make bagels and lox. In any case, you have a breakfast treat. Smoked herring is much less expensive than sturgeon or lox or whitefish, of course, and has a stronger flavor. You can also use the schmier on dark rye bread, open-face with lettuce and tomato on top. You need to use a knife and fork for that, because otherwise it is definitely a 'sink sandwich' (That's messy! eat it over the sink!)

                You have to like smoked seafood to appreciate smoked herring, I think. But I like all kinds of smoked fish, and smoked seafood, including smoked octopus (Greek delis) smoked clams, smoked bay scallops, smoked oysters, and of course all the various types of fish roe, from caviar on down to the lowly paddlefish roe. If you don't like the taste of the smell, nothing you do to it will make it smell or taste different.

                It is entirely an acquired tastes but well worth trying to develop. It opens whole worlds of new flavors to the adventurous Chowhound.

              2. Debone, put resulting flakes in an oven-proof dish, cover with whipping cream, bake until cream sets, eat.

                1. Like Todao suggested, cook it in a tomato based sauce. And like you noticed, they look like big anchovies. How about using the final product as a pizza topping with some onions and capers. I remember eating something like that in Italy. It was really delicious!

                  1. I make a reaaalllly good sandwich with kippered herring. Looks kind of like tuna salad:

                    - 1 can herring, chopped up
                    - 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs (depending on how you like the fishy taste)
                    - 2 or 3 baby dill pickles (with garlic, my preference)
                    - about a tbsp finely chopped red onion, or scallions, or any mild, sweet onion
                    - about 2 tbsp fat free plain yogurt
                    - about 1 tbsp miracle whip

                    Chop, mix, mash, and wrap in a tortilla, spread on crackers, or eat straight out of the bowl. Om nom nom.

                    EDIT: I just realized what you have is NOT like kippered herring. My bad :(

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: miss_habibi

                      Maybe not smoked herring, but your recipe sounds great anyway!

                    2. you could make a smoked fish pate. I like smoked fish straight out the packet or on a salad. How about warmed (steamed maybe) with fried eggs and toast.

                      1. Although, this is very late I just had to mention my experience with smoked herring. Alone, as is, herring is far too salty for my taste. I am referring to the smoked herring that is sold whole or fillet in a shrink wrap package. I was taught to always boil the herring due to the salt content as well making the fish more pliable which makes removing any bones easier. The boiling in plain water for 20 min (or depending on your tastes longer) will draw the salt from the fish and rehydrate it a bit. We drain the boiled fish (setting aside a bit of the water) rinse with cool water and remove ve any large bones and if unwanted skin. Get a saute pan heat a little bit of oil, add some chopped garlic, onions, bell peppers (if you like some heat add some spicy peppers) once soft add some tomatoe sauce and otheother herbs and spices, but REFRAIN FROM adding salt. Add your fish saute for a few minutes Use a small amount of the fluid used to boil the fish to deglaze the pan I would use one serving spoon at a time tasting to ensure it does not become overly salted. If you want more of a sauce add plain water (you can always add more salt to taste by using the salted water). The saucier version would be tossed with pasta (delicious) while the "dryer" version I would use as an appertizer to spread on crackers,etc. Sorry for such a long spew hope you give smoked herring another try just keep in mind boiling is the key to removing the salt. You could also boil the herring being careful not to break the fish down let chill and serve it as is from there. I'm going to try that with a homemade cheese spread :)

                        1. Im late to the party, but smoked herring (like salt cod) is very popular in the west indies, and they prepare them a number of tasty ways. Im thinking thats why there are in a NY store.
                          Major comfort food
                          Heres a sample recipe from Trinidad.

                          1. What is the difference between smoked herring and kipper snacks?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sundancer 10225

                              There are at least four types that I know of and have bought.
                              1. Whole smoked herring. They are about a foot long, and still 'fish-shaped'.
                              2. British style kippers. Split, gutted, salted and smoked to a yellow brown colour. Two half fish joined by skin and a little flesh
                              3. Blind robins, smoked herring fillets with the hair fine bones left in, salted and smoked. no head, no tail, just the fillets.
                              4. Canned kipper snacks. Rather like blind robins, but wet-smoked, so they are softer and can be used right out of the tin without rehydration. The German 'Polar' brand is my favorite for kipper snacks (and a bunch of other tinned seafood treats.) They are smoked to a dark red colour on the flesh side, skin is soft and black, very fragrant, no bones, but I do take the skin off to make my schmier for bagels and for black rye bread. They are also good with Liederkranz cheese, as well.

                              No. 1 and No. 2 are tough and dry, and taking the skin off takes off most of the salt, I think. They can still be eaten out of hand, or you can pull the meat off with a fork. Blind robins are tough, and need to have the hair fine bones pulled out if only for aesthetics. Unlike kipper snacks, you can't just smoosh them up, you need to mince them with a knife. To make your schmier with those, add a TBS of sour cream to the cream cheese, to partially rehydrate the blind robins.

                              As someone has already mentioned, they are great, right out of the packaging with beer. Chewy and good.

                              I hope this answers sundancer 10225's question about the differences in smoked herrings. Whew! I'm glad we didn't get into the issue of pickled herring in it's many forms!

                              1. re: DeeDee_AZ

                                Thanks, I think that helps. Now I have to go to the store and study the different versions.

                            2. IN New Zealand we have a fish called Kahawai, which is actually a giant herring. Very commonly available smoked. What we use it for - eating as it is, served in a white sauce with parsley, baked in a fish pie, made into fish cakes with mashed potato. MMhmm. I'm going home in a week ad this is on my list to eat.

                              1. I just bought some of these salty, dried herring fillets, and i didn't know what to do with them because of the salt. I thought maybe you could make a potato soup with them. If you boiled water, onions, carrots or parsnips, potatoes and maybe some leeks in a pot with some of the herring. Maybe the result would be a smokey, yummy potato Vichyssoise kinda thing,