Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pan-fried Herring on Crisp Bread

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Herring has been an important staple of Swedish cooking for a very long time. The Swedish working class used to subsist almost exclusively on salted herring and potatoes, with the occasional pickled herring when it was party time. Due to its importance, herring holds a special place in the food culture of Sweden. This recipe is one of the most beloved, but luckily also one of the simplest. If you're ever in Stockholm, you can buy these sandwiches at the square by Slussen. The only tricky part about the recipe is finding the right type of herring. Or perhaps, finding herring at all, depending on where you live.

You see, herring comes in many styles, depending on its origin. The version used here is the smaller and leaner Baltic herring (the subspecies Clupea harengus membras), fished in the Baltic sea off the east cost of Sweden. This type of herring is known as strömming in Swedish, while the larger and fatter herring used for pickling is called sill.

Pan-fried herring on crisp bread
If you prefer, you could serve these with mashed potatoes and a sour cream dip, but do try them with crisp bread at least once. If you have a hard time finding decent crisp bread, try IKEA, who usually carry crisp bread from Leksand. Avoid Wasa if alternatives exist.

1 kg of fresh herring fillets
a large bunch of parsley
bread crumbs

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Remove the back fins from the fillets, if present, wipe them dry with kitchen towels, then match them up in pairs of roughly equal size.

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Chop the parsley, and place a generous amount between each pair of fillets. As you can see, frozen parsley is fine too.

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Pour bread crumbs on a plate and coat each fillet pair with a generous amount of crumbs.

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Get your local nationalist butter...

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...and place a big knob of it in a hot skillet.

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Then fry the fillets for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.

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Now get your best crisp bread. This particular brand is produced in a community of treehuggers in Järna, south of Stockholm. They also sell their own flour, beans and lentils, all of which is great produce.

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Spread some butter on the bread, place a couple of fried fillets on it, and you're done! Serve with a cool beer or a glass of cold milk.

4 comments:

SweetBites said...

Hi,nice to visit ur wonderful blog. Ur pan fried herring looks so delish and can be made in no time. Thanks for the recipe.

del said...

Thank you for the kind words! And indeed, this recipe takes close enough to no time at all, and is very gratifying. With the added bonus of herring being dirt cheap (in Sweden, anyway), this is home cooking at its best.

JB said...

Parsley? Dill is more commonly used i think

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