Pickled Herring in Mustard Sauce

Pickled Herring
in Mustard Sauce

Fish for breakfast? Norwegians adore the humble herring,
served in vinegar and mustard, so much so that many can’t
wait until lunchtime for their first fishy fix of the day.

Before oil was discovered in its waters in the 1960s, Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe; rich in fish and little else. The Atlantic’s vast schools of herring were so abundant then that the silvery fish were a Norwegian staple for all. Affection for the humble herring, now a delicacy and far less abundant, has never waned. In fact, it’s more popular than ever – not least because it reminds Norwegians just how far they’ve come.

You’ll need
Pickling liquid
3 cups (750mL) water
1 cup (250mL) vinegar
2 tbs sugar
1 diced carrot
1 red onion, peeled and
½ a leek (white part only),
1 bay leaf
3 black peppercorns
3 white peppercorns
8 preserved herring fillets

Mustard sauce
1 tbs sweet (Bavarian) mustard
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
2 tsp sugar
1–2 tbs distilled white vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground white
½ cup chopped dill
¾ cup (185mL) canola oil

Cooking Method
1 To make the pickling liquid, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir every now and then until the sugaris completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
2 Submerge and soak the herring fillets in cold water overnight to remove the saltiness from the fish.
3 Remove the fillets from the water and pat dry with paper towel. Arrange in a shallow baking dish, cover with the pickling brine and refrigerate overnight.
4 To make the mustard sauce, combine the mustards, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and dill in a food processor. Drizzle canola oil into the mix in a slow, steady stream until the sauce is thick. Leave in the fridge overnight.
5 The next day, remove the herring from the brine and cut into slices, then serve with the mustard sauce.
TIP This dish works best if you allow ample time for the fish to soak and marinate – preferably 48 hours. If you can buy the herrings already pickled you’ll save yourself a lot of time.

Tasting notes
Let’s face it, pickled fish with mustard is an acquired taste – especially at breakfast. And yet, many find themselves repeatedly returning to this pungent favourite, drawn to its tangy strangeness and to the cold, smooth texture of raw, white fish soaked in a zesty mustard and vinegar coating. Find it at the hotel breakfast bar or, like the locals, in one of the open sandwiches that Scandinavians love. Served atop a wedge of bread, you’ll most appreciate it sitting by a Norwegian fishing harbour as seabirds whirl and squawk overhead. Here, you’ll be surrounded by the invigorating pong of fresh fish and of boat traffic coming and going, as it has along Norway’s Atlantic coast for centuries.

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