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Marinated Herring, Brands, Sources and Favorites.

I grew up eating herring marinated weekly by my grandmother; mixed w/ sour cream and raw onion, and eaten on corn rye bread. In the ten years I lived in Norway and Finland I ate many types of marinated herring and salted as well. Even a year in the old USSR was herring paradise. In Maine I could find Vita and Skansen and in Portland matjes in dill sauce. I also marinated whole fresh herring myself. When visiting the folks in NJ, I'd haul back a Polish brand in oii w/ onions and ABBA products. Now in Albuquerque I've found an international supermarket, Tallin, where I can get a German brand of roll mop herring in oil and onions and a VERY salty matjes herring in oil. My question is, now at my ripe old age, I finally have access to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Costco. Do these stores carry marinated herring? Other southwest chains? And finally, what are your favorite brands of non-canned herring. (I know there is a thread on canned herring.) Thanks.

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  1. I see that I can also order herring on line. Any recommended sources?
    Nearly time to make herring , beets and whipped cream Christmas Herring Salad!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Passadumkeg

      OMFG - herring salad with red beets!!!! I OD on that every summer when I am in Germany - that, and rollmops, matjes, smoked trout, cured herring....

      I'll send ya my address if you send me a herring xmas present :-D

    2. My Western WA Costco has pickled herring - it's in quart jars, I believe, in the refrigerated prepared meals area. It's in the clear brine, no sour cream.

      One of my best friends talks about that Christmas beet/cream/herring salad. I have to admit, I'm glad my mom chose to teach me my Scandinavian heritage through a zillion kind of butter cookies, rather than that! On the other hand, it sounds utterly festive looking!

      8 Replies
      1. re: Vetter

        I like Costco's brand of pickled herring (big jars with black labels) much more than the Vita brand. Whole Foods has the same black-label brand in much smaller jars. I just don't remember the name of it.

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          the stuff from Costco is the Blue Hill Bay label of Acme. and yes, it's *worlds* better than Vita...though that's not really a difficult thing to accomplish ;)

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Thank you!

            We used to get Vita (and occasionally Skansen) herring in sour cream when I was a kid in Miami in the '80s, to go with bagels, cream cheese, and lox for Sunday brunch. In more recent years, I have really been enjoying that Blue Hill Bay brand in wine sauce, but when I tried Vita's herring in wine sauce in a fit of nostalgia, it was incredibly disappointing and paled in comparison. I've had the same big jar of Vita in my fridge for a long time now.

            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

              Veggo & i discussed Vita in another thread. the only time i deigned to eat it was back in college in Atlanta when it was the ONLY option...and even then i don't know that it was worth it. i'm spoiled - i was raised on the good stuff from places like Barney Greengrass & Zabar's in NYC :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Emory vs. Penn chow... you win!

                1. re: Veggo

                  Veggo, you think ATL had better food than Philly? you're nuts.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I was just trying to be accomodating. I was a regular at Koch's deli and not unknown at Bookbinders and Le Bec Fin (closing soon) after profitable golf hustles at Cobb's Creek in Philly.
                    My last visit to ATL included good eats in Buckhead, and being pelted with eggs by laughing, screaming marauders with good aim as I strolled downtown.

        2. re: Vetter

          I am a loyal Blue Hill pickled herring consumer, but I thought I'd try something new when I found jars of marinated herring in garlic sauce at Ikea. It was surprisingly good and the rich cream sauce was a great change.

        3. https://www.mabaensch.com/

          Ma Baensch is a Milwaukee institution. You can order jars of either sour cream & chive or wine marinated online.

          1. If you can spare the change (and the shipping), have a look at NYC's Russ and Daughters--roll mops, pickled herring, schmaltz herring, French herring, matjes herring, cream herring, etc...and excellent herring salad...

            1 Reply
            1. re: penthouse pup

              if we're talking about ordering from NYC, Barney Greengrass and Zabar's need to be mentioned as well :)

            2. What's that you say? Us old folks in Florida are a little hard of herring. All I can get is the Vita pickled or sour cream. I eat copious quantities but I am tantalized to learn that there is even better out there somewhere.

              14 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Veggo, get the one COSTCO carries, it is from Canada and the brand is mentioned by other posters above, it is in wine not sour cream, but one can mix in the sour cream at service.

                1. re: ospreycove

                  Darn. So many are faithful disciples of Costco, but I would have to schlep across the Skyway bridge and its celebrated fishing piers to buy dead fish in a jar?

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Veggo.....hold out for the opening of Costco in South Sarasota.......Early 2011?????

                      1. re: Veggo

                        I can't recall the name of the mall, but it is in Osprey on Tamiami Trail. there was a vacant Dillards in the mall and COSTCO has signed a lease to demolish the space and build a new store with an entrance to the rest of the mall...Great deal for the other stores....as well as the landlord!!

                    1. re: Veggo

                      They used to have a great pickled herring at my BJs, it came in a big plastic tub. The brand was Icy Point I think. It ruined me for all others, except house made at fish stores. The 2 lb heavy duty tubs were a nice keepsake too.

                      1. re: coll

                        Icy Point is a label of Ocean Brands, which now packages its herring under the name Nathan's...maybe keep an eye out for it or contact them to find out where to buy it near you?


                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Eeww. I bought Nathans herring at Waldbaums and actually returned it. It had bones in it!!! I mean in every bite, I couldn't handle it. I guess they have different grades.

                          1. re: coll

                            It was their Herring Bone Special.

                            1. re: Passadumkeg


                              @coll, that's a bummer - good thing you returned it. there are often *teeny* soft bones in herring that you can eat with no problem, but they shouldn't have been that noticeable! anyway, i've never had the Nathan's product, just found the info online.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                one of your better...I'll go with houndstooth...

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  I think that's why the Nordic countries do so well in the Winter Olympics, they have perfected the herring bone over the centuries!

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    We are waiting for Eddie the Eagle to get it right next time and kick butt.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      Nope The Nuke, Nukkinen, has the herring bone down pat on the 200 m. jump.
                                      I wonder if any of the Nordic Olympic teams have worn herring bone jackets as the national costume????

                  2. Pass, try the Blue Hill Bay from Costco, or Bubbies from your local co-op or natural foods market (i checked their website and they listed several stores in Albuquerque).

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      How funny! Our house in Maine is on Blue Hill Bay and I've never heard of the brand. I think I'm going to like it.
                      Does Trader Joes carry herring?

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        it's actually a sub-label of Acme Smoked Fish Corp.

                        TJ's only has canned, smoked herring, not jarred. you might want to try it though - i like their canned seafood in general.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Next time into Albuquerque. I've never had access to an TJ's.

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            i hope you've checked out some of the threads about TJ's favorites, hits/misses, best new items, etc...we've all done the leg work for you already, so all you have to do is compile a list and toss everything into your cart ;)

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Blue Hill Bay is Acme's gourmet brand marketed to non-Jews. Products are nearly all the same.

                          1. re: BigGuy

                            Same price, herring being a somewhat agnostic fish?

                            1. re: BigGuy

                              yes, i mentioned that a couple of posts up. and i know your comment was tongue in cheek, but there are plenty of Jews who shop at Costco ;)

                          2. The Santa Fe Whole Foods is far, far better than Albuquerque's, if you ever make it up that way. Can't say as I recollect their herring selection, though...

                            We really enjoyed (& learned from!) your comments on the Maine board. Hope y'all enjoy your new home state.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FishTales

                              Thanks, my new old state! I was here from 69-79! I now have 90 lbs of hatch in the freezer, worked as a uranium miner, in the 70's, and have a Ma from UNM. I've owned land on Mt. Taylor for 35 years. We'll be back in Maine in June. Heading up to Taos this weekend to see and old buddy.
                              I am "enchanted" to be back. We took a 6 hour hike on Mt Taylor today.
                              Tony Hillerman was a prof. and drinking buddy at the old Oakie Joe's on Univ and Central!
                              I'm saddened the Pink Adobe has gone corporate and am nostalgic about The Shed and The Compound.
                              Perhaps we can meet. I'm about to do a post on NM chow in Milan, NM!
                              Carpe chow!

                            2. 2nd the Russ & Daughters reco earlier, but specifically wanted to mention the very special New Catch, fresh herring matjes in the spring from Holland. Usually in the June time frame - only available for about a month. The same lightly salted style is available year round as North Sea Herring, but the really special stuff is only seasonal. I like to eat it like sushi (with sushi rice) or plain.


                              9 Replies
                              1. re: applehome

                                App, I've eaten the new herring on the queside in Den Hague and you may find interesting to know that The Oyster House in Grand Central Station in NYC has new herring in May/June.

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  My NYC brothers make a special effort to tell me when The Oyster Bar has the herring in - I make a NYC run just for that! (Ok, plus a Katz's pastrami...)

                                  1. re: applehome

                                    Oop, yes Oyster Bar. It used to be a Father Keg, Brother Keg and little Dumkeg to go to the Oyster Bar at Xmas time.
                                    Now that the folks have passed, I have no real reason to go to the NYC area and I miss it!
                                    This summer, we need to get down there.
                                    I wonder if I can find whole herring in Albuquerque and make some pickled herring myself.
                                    I tend to doubt it.
                                    What does the Yiddish term "schmaltz herring" mean?

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Schmaltz means chicken fat, a wonderful ingredient in decadent chopped liver, so the herring may be preserved in schmaltz. Never had it before, but I love all that old-school appetizing food.

                                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                        Not preserved in schmaltz - just fried in it. Take a matjes or similar lightly brined herring and cook it in schmaltz (typically goose fat in Germany). Not very popular these days. Nothing like Sammy's Roumanian still in the Lower East Side - syrup bottles full of schmaltz on the tables for tableside mixing of the chopped liver - the best you evah had!

                                        Hey Passa - I'm on my way down to OKC to stay for a while. Planning on making a stop through NYC to pick up some good stuff - want a tray of the north sea herring? We could arrange a pass off somewhere on I-40. Leaving before T-day (quite a bit before, actually, to avoid the traffic). Of course, you can always mail order the stuff anyway, so no big deal, but I thought I'd offer.

                                        1. re: applehome

                                          I misread this, I thought I-95 and at first thought, what is OKC, (Sorry Dawson.)? That is an extremely kind offer, but I'm in western NM and it is a very log day's drive to OKC, even spliting the diff. I can wait until I return to Maine in June. I plan to eat fresh seafood every day during the summer. If ever in Albuquerque, let me know and I'll show you around. We do have a guest room too.
                                          I knew schmaltz was chicken fat, but didn't think of frying herring in it.
                                          Just for the record. Herring is making a good come back in the Gulf od Maine. More fresh should be available in the northeast. So it is just a "red herring" that there weren't enough for the closure of America's last sardine cannery in the US, in Prospect Harbor, Me., by Bumble Bee.
                                          More US jobs overseas and an inferior product, too.

                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            These folks have terrific product - canned, but lots of variety - all from Maine!


                                            DeMoulas (Market Basket) carries them in every store around here.

                                            1. re: applehome

                                              Yes! I get their products at a local Ellsworth discount store, Renys.
                                              Funny, I just listed Bar Harbor Foods on the canned herring thread, yesterday!

                                              When in Rome... I'm making a green chile sauce for stacked enchiladas. I'm using sirloin beef, which I don't normally do, but it is so cheap.
                                              Tomorrow, I make Stroganoff the celebrate The Treaty of Kittery and the end of the Russo-Japanese War!

                                              1. re: applehome

                                                ooh, thanks for this! looks like they're available at a number of stores in my area. if only they offered pickled herring...