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Mar 17, 2010 07:10 PM

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!