WTF is Herring?

rollmopsHello friends! I am still in Holland, enjoying the warm weather, bike lanes and cheese.

I’ve been visiting my relatives for a couple of weeks, which has been amazing. Having lived on the other side of the world for so long, I feel like there’s this whole other side of my heritage and culture that I haven’t had the chance to explore. Until now.

This week, I got a taste (literally) of real Dutch culture, in the form of…herring. This was a food I had heard of, but had never eaten it in the real, traditional Dutch way. Which is unique, to say the least!

To further your education on this wonderful *ahem* delicacy, watch this quick video of my first herring experience:

WTF is Herring?

In case you skipped the video (come on, lazy, watch it!) here’s a transcript of the opening conversation with my cousin:

Me: Ruud! What are we eating today?
Ruud: “Haring”.
Me: A what?
Ruud: “Haring”. It’s a fish!
Me: And what’s it cooked in?
Ruud: Nothing!
Me: Nothing? It’s raw?
Ruud: Yes.
Me: And how does it taste?
Ruud (with a glint in his eye): Delicious.

Sounds tempting, right?

In case you were wondering, the herring belongs to the same fish family as the sardine. They vary in size, but the ones I had were about 15cm long. We got them freshly from the market (yep, they were gutted on the spot!). Not only are they eaten raw, but you can buy them pickled, smoked and cured.

Why should I eat them?

Like other oily fish, herrings are very high in the Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which your body does not produce. Omega 3 fats are AMAZING for your body, and are used to treat and prevent many illnesses, including:

  • Breast, colon, and prostate cancers
  • Depression/bipolar disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke
    …just to name a few!

Herrings are a good source of Vitamin D. Good to know if you’re in Australia and lacking sun! (Bonus: pickled herrings are pretty cheap, so it’s a good protein fix if you’re on a budget and aren’t a fan of canned tuna.)

Ok, where the fork do I find it?

The most common form of herring I’ve seen is in a jar and pickled. You can buy these from most supermarkets (in Australia) and delis. They are called ‘rollmops’ (sounds totally bizarre, I know), and are fillets of pickled herring rolled around a gherkin or slices of onion, and secured with a wooden skewer. Mm, my mouth waters just thinking about it. (I’m dead serious, I really love rollmops, but it’s definitely for those who can stand the taste of vinegar!)

Traditionally, you just eat them out of the jar or on bread, but I think it would taste pretty good in a salad with spinach and roast peppers.

So what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself a jar of herring today!