Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H is for Herring ...



Herrings, Bloaters and Kippers ... the small, oily, saltwater herring that most versatile of all fish.

Atlantic Herring

Today, it is often ignored in spite of its delicately flavoured, wholesome flesh and inexpensive price ...  fresh herring straight from the harbour, lightly floured, fried in butter and served with a little lemon: nothing better.


But in bygone centuries, thousands of families survived years of famine and poverty on a diet of herrings and potatoes.



"Red Herring".  Cold Smoked Herring
brined so that their flesh achieves a
reddish colour
Fresh herrings can be served in many different ways, quite apart from the numerous pickling methods to which herrings lend themselves.


Salted herrings were commonplace ... including red herrings which are dried-smoked after salting and still feature strongly in Scottish and Irish cooking.


Bloaters on yellow paper -
Van Gogh (1889)
Yarmouth, East Anglia produced the first mild smoke cure in 1835 and named the product bloater (as it swelled in the process) ... According to George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier, “The Emperor Charles V is said to have erected a statue to the inventor of bloaters” ...


While further up the east coast in Northumberland at Seahouses ... another smoke cure for a whole ungutted herring was being tested.  This became the process for what is known today as the Kipper.


Kippers for breakfast - or for supper
At least one stock of Atlantic herring spawns in every month of the year – each spawns at a different time and place ... no wonder they’re such a valuable food source!


Herrings have played a pivotal role in the history of Britain ...  as a staple food source – oils, fish to eat or prepare fresh, salted, smoked or pickled ...




That is H for Herring from Aspects of British Cookery

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

45 comments:

Patsy said...

I quite like kippers, but I'm not sure I've ever eaten fresh herring.

Marja said...

Herrings I want to add the best way to eat them. Raw ! The first thing I do when I go to Holland is buy a new (raw) herring on the market with raw onions. You take him by the tail, dip it in the onions and hold it in the air and take a big bite. mmmm

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

Most informative Hilary, when I lived in Ireland there's a place called Killybegs which is a fishing community where Herrings are the main catch.

Have a grand day, hugs.
Yvonne.

Clay said...

Your A-z theme always leaves me very hungry!I have not tried herring but will try and seek out some fresh stuff when I can. Fantastic work!

Amanda Trought said...

I could do with some fresh herrings now, though I was never a fan of kippers - never did agree with me. have a blessed day!

Nick Wilford said...

I never fail to learn something from your blog, Hilary. Didn't realise herrings had been such a staple in bygone eras.

Old Kitty said...

I like how the egg is presented on the kipper in that breakfast kipper pic!!! Take care
x

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I am not sure that I have ever had a fresh herring, certainly not in all the years we lived in Africa. Love kippers though. Have a good week Diane

Rob Z Tobor said...

Nice post I do love herring a great fish to eat if cooked well.

Jo said...

Oh the longing, I haven't had herring in years, although did have kippers about 25 years ago. We used to have herrings rolled in oatmeal for breakfast. Never had egg with kippers although did with smoked haddock, another thing we can't really get here. Used to love roll mops and soused herrings too.

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

Bob Scotney said...

Craster kippers are the best in the world and by chance we are having some today. They were brought right to our front door by a NE fishmonger.

Teresa Coltrin said...

I really need to get out more because I've never ate herring. Sounds really good too.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I have to say that I love kippers for breakfast. That was one delight at all the B&B's. I could leave the tomatoes, thank you very much, but bring on the kippers.

Mark Means said...

Someone once told me that a New Year's Eve tradition was to eat pickled herring at the stroke of midnight for luck.

I took their word for it :)

Left and Write

JoJo said...

There's a Herring Run here in Bourne, they come down the stream into the Canal. But I sure wouldn't eat it.

Rosalind Adam said...

I love pickled herrings but kippers - yuk! Too many little bones!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Fun food posts for the challenge. I didn't know much about herring, just that it can be pickled. I'm of Scandinavian decent, but I've never had pickled herring. Why do they call a false clue, or misleading character, in mysteries, a red herring?

Munir said...

My husband used to eat a lot Herring and Kippers during his bachelor life.

Ghadeer said...

The picture of Kippers for breakfast- Yum!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy .. fresh fish - especially herring .. you've been missing out!

@ Marja - you're very welcome and I'm not sure about that way of eating them! ... but I do love soused herrings ... Interesting way of eating them though ..

@ Yvonne - many tiny harbours and ports have herring as their main catch don't they .. delicious though ..

@ Clay - apologies for the hunger times!! If you get a chance to try herring that'd be great ..

@ Amanda - well at least we can get herrings .. you in London and me down here ... I rather like kippers ... but if they disagree with you - best left well alone!

@ Nick - I aim to please! We forget our seas so often don't we .. coming from Cornwall helps me remember ...

@ Old Kitty - oh a soft poached egg on kipper with fresh bread and butter - but you don't eat them either I guess?

@ Diane - fish in Rhodesia was impossible to get hold of wasn't it .. and in my early days in Jo'burg similarly .. it was a relief to get to the coast. Like you - I agree kippers are delicious ...

@ Rob - so pleased you enjoy your herrings ... they are delicious ..

@ Jo - sorry you're another stuck in the middle of a huge country ... I think that must be a Scottish tradition - the rolling in oatmeal ..

Eggs and kippers for breakfast are a staple and then kedgeree: smoked haddock with hardboiled eggs and rice ...

I'd have thought you could get roll mops and soused herrings - perhaps they're very expensive?

@ Bob - coincidence .. we used to have a fish van come round when we lived in Surrey .. and I could now - but really I should go down to the fish shop on the shore!

Hope you enjoyed your lunch or supper .. Craster kippers a well known name ...

@ Teresa - I wonder if you can get fresh herring where you are .. possibly not ... but they are delicious

@ Lee - oh yes B&Bs with their full English breakfast varieties ... and so glad you enjoyed the kippers on offer ...

@ Mark - I've never heard of that superstition .. it may well be in their homeland (Scandinavian I guess?) ... well you are a believer!!

@ JoJo ... really - I'm amazed, but what a great opportunity to see the run - well the canal must be healthy if the herring are working the river ... perhaps you're right not to eat them ...

@ Ros - I love both .. but don't often eat them. Too many bones I can understand ...

@ Mary - thanks. You're right about the Scandinavian origins for pickling .. I didn't include that aspect here .. as it's mainly British (meant to be!!).

Red Herring - is from a red herring as I describe above being drawn across a fox's path, which destroys the scent and sets the dogs off in another direction ... (I'm not sure of the date of this ... ) - putting you off ... false clue as you mention ...

@ Munir - they were cheap and cheerful and probably fairly accessible .. in those early days here in the UK ..

@ Ghadeer - the kippers do look good don't they ..

Cheers everyone - thanks for coming by .. Hilary

Alexandra Heep said...

I know that fresh is best, but have been known to polish off a can of herring in tomato sauce once in a while. It's very heavy in the stomach though.

Gattina said...

Oh yes, I know herrings very well it was a often served plate just after the war !Breaded herrings and potatoes !There are also the sour once rolled up and called "Rollmops" which are eaten on New Year's day to digest all the drinks, lol !

Julie Flanders said...

My grandmother was German and it was a tradition for her to ear herring on New Year's Day. The whole family loved it. I have to admit I've never tried it and never took part in the tradition, it just seemed so gross to me LOL.

Tina said...

Herrings feature big in Scandinavian cooking as well and my American friends, to this day, don't understand AT ALL. We make a dish for Christmas and Easter called (translated) Johnson's Temptation. Potatoes, cream, herring...what could be better? I actually have some in my freezer from this year's Swedish Easter celebration.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Jo said...

I make Kedgeree with smoked cod - can't get smoked haddock (oh for a nice Finnan Haddie) Nigella makes it with salmon, never tried that.

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

Sara said...

You got me on this one. I'm not so fond of herrings or kippers. My daughter eats them, but I truly believe it is an acquired taste after many years. Although I think it's better than jellied eels.

Even so, I enjoyed reading about the many ways the herring has been used.

Thank you, ma'am:~) Have a great day!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex .. I agree .. but fish in tomato sauce, as too spaghetti - for some reason is one of my childhood dislikes! Fresh is definitely best ..

@ Gattina - well you've helped answer Mark's question .. re the New Year digestif ...


@ Julie - you too endorsing the query re Mark's question .. interesting isn't it!?!

@ Tina - suddenly the Scandinavians pop up ..

Funny isn't it .. I totally appreciate roll mops - mind you I first had them in a funny place - story another day!!

I love potato salad with roll mop herrings - delicious ..

Johnson's Temptation = a very good name!! I'll be over to help you finish your freezer store!!

@ Jo - yes kedgeree .. 'any' smoked fish .. but kedgeree can be adapted as Nigella showed us ..

@ Sara - sorry about that .. fresh fish is so delicious .. and kippers are I guess a little like marmite .. yes or no!!

Jellied eels I love too .. but a full big eel roasted/jellied I really did not like .. served after a long back from South Africa .. wasn't my favourite!!

Herrings really did sustain the country for many a century ..

Cheers to you all .. Hilary

Helena Halme said...

I love herring! In Finland we often eat marinated small Baltic herring but I also love kippers and just grilled.

Helena

ps. thanks for coming to see my A-Z Posts.
x

Val Poore said...

I'm just not a fish person at all. I only like fish if it's totally disguised in white sauce...haha, so no herring or kippers for me!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I never see herring in a market in my part of the U.S., unless it's in a jar and pickled, sometimes with sour cream.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've had herring a few times.
Now, what about a red herring?

Karen Tamara said...

I've never had herring, but my best friend loves it. In all these years, I've never tried it. Maybe I should.

Karen

Julie Jordan Scott said...

I have never had herring but now my hunger, in general, just got bigger. I would like to try it, actually. I'm trying to increase my seafood consumption. Thank you for the inspiration!

Happy A to Z-ing!
Julie Jordan Scott
Our Literary Grannies from A to Z:H is for Hannah Adams
tweet me - @juliejordanscot

Denise Covey said...

hi hilary

The only herring I've ever tasted came out of a tin--guess our waters are too warm for these critters. Nice taste and I could see how people could survive on them.

Denise

Liara Covert said...

My dad loves herring. It is a staple food in his diet. Throughout his work life, he would travel home for lunch as often as he could in order to have his herring on tasted rye with sour creme. Love how you offer herring insight here. Best wishes always!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Helena - herring is such a Scandinavian thing isn't it .. I have some Polish friends and they often serve it for me. So I can appreciate your take on herring .. (I know they're not Scandinavian!!)

Pleasure being over with you at your blog .. it was fascinating to see Helsinki ..

@ Val - you live on the water and you don't like fish?! I'm amazed!!

@ Patricia - they are one of the buy and eat fish .. so perhaps the market isn't very big .. I wonder if you can get them on the east coast ...

@ Alex - it's good isn't it ... and a red herring clue?!

@ Karen - looks like that time is coming to give herring a try - if you like fish .. you'll enjoy a herring ..

@ Julie - well delighted to read you're inspired to try herring - I hope you enjoy it ..

You too: happy A to Z-ing ..

@ Denise - I expect you've guessed right the waters aren't conducive to the herring ... but I'm sure you'll have some delicious fish from your seas

@ Liara - with your roots I can imagine you'd love fresh fish ... I love the story of your father making sure he can get home for lunch as often as possible for his favourite lunch dish - and it sounds good ... rye bread has that special 'sour' flavour which I love.

So lovely to see you too ..

Cheers to you all .. Herrings today ... Indian curries tomorrow! Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I grew up near the Pacific Ocean, but didn't realize how lucky I was to have fresh fish until my relatives came out from the prairies. I remember their awe at how delicious fresh salmon, cod, halibut tasted. In my ignorance, I just assumed everybody's fish tasted this good.

Now we live in the north on a lake and get to sample delicious ling cod and trout all year round. How fortunate.

Thanks again, Hilary, for such a great source of info.

Chuck said...

Kippers reminds me of the Super Tramp song Breakfast in America...can we have kippers for breakfast, mummy dear, mummy dear

Anyway, I was hoping you would mention the origin of the term "red herring" and does it relate to something in your post??

Don't think a name like bloaters has appetite appeal!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joylene .. the large continent makes the movement of fish not that easy - now perhaps with the frozen/cold facilities available it is easier ...

... but fresh is so much better - lucky you with the ling, cod and trout fresh from your lake ..


@ Chuck - thanks re the link to the Super Tramp song ... I didn't know that ...

Red Herring - is from a red herring as I describe above being drawn across a fox's path, which destroys the scent and sets the dogs off in another direction ... (I'm not sure of the date of this ... ) - putting you off ... false clue as you mention ...

I'm not sure of the origin of the name .. but I gather the fish swells and bloats ....?? Hence the name perhaps ...

Thanks for your interesting comments - cheers Hilary

TALON said...

LOVE Herring! :)

A Lady's Life said...

love herring and kippers
My gramma always bought smoked fish which she enjoyed a lot.

Lisa said...

Okay, so I'm not a fish eater, but seriously Hilary, you have a way with words, and my tummy! I'm always hungry when I leave your blog!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Talon - excellent to read!

@ A Lady's Life - you too love herring, and memories of your grandmother ..

@ Lisa - thanks so much .. just wonderful to read your comments ..

Thanks to you all .. Hilary

Ida Chiavaro said...

The pickled herring here in Denmark is very sweet, the polish are most disappointed in it, but I love it served traditionally on Rye bread with a capers and onions and a small glass of schnapps - or with a curry mayonnaise.. mmm

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Ida - better late, for my reply comment, than never getting one! It's interesting how different countries have different customs for their dishes ... similar, yet different - your Danish pickled herring sound delicious. Cheers Hilary