Herrings in Cold-Pressed Linseed Oil Recipe

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Wild Honey and Rye Modern Polish RecipesYou can’t really separate the Pole from the herring, it is a very loyal partnership. Herrings are plentiful in the Baltic Sea (the only species in the Baltic not threatened by overfishing are herring, sprat and mackerel) and very high in healthy omega-3 fats. My grandmother adored them and used to bring fresh herrings home from the market and salt them herself in a large bucket. These days, you can find lots of different types of herring: salted, or preserved in brine, oil or vinegar. In Poland, the best herrings you can buy are called matias, matjes or matiasy. They are young herring fillets, which often have a pink tinge to them. This is my Mama’s method for preparing herrings, which transforms a rather plain, salty thing into something flavoursome and versatile. Whereas Poles will usually use sunflower or vegetable oil, I have suggested a cold-pressed linseed (flaxseed) oil (olej lniany), which offers a double hit of omega 3. Herrings almost always appear on the table whenever my Mama hosts a party. Herrings, served with rye bread, are often enjoyed with a small glass of vodka.

  • Yield: 1 litre/1¾ pints/4 cups

Ingredients

  • 12 herring fillets (salted, or in brine or oil)
  • 2 white onions, finely sliced
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 7 fl oz generous ¾ cup (200 ml) cold-pressed, organic linseed oil
How to Make It
  1. If the herrings are salted, you will need to soak them in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water several times. Drain the herrings and dry them on paper towels. If you are using herrings in brine or oil, drain them in a colander. Chop the herrings into 5 cm/2 in pieces.
  2. Put the onions into a large bowl. Pour over some freshly boiled water, leave for 5 minutes, then drain the water.
  3. Sterilize a 1-litre jar, such as a clip-top preserving jar. Layer the onions, herrings, bay leaves and peppercorns in the jar.
  4. Pour in the oil until the herrings are completely covered. Seal with a tight-fitting lid.
  5. These herrings will be ready to eat in a day or two, and will keep in the fridge (as long as they are immersed in oil) for a month.
  6. Eat them as they are, on rye bread, or with one of the following toppings.
  7. With Green Apple and Honey                                                                          Ingredients:              
    • herrings, as on previous page
    • 1 large green apple, sliced
    • ½ bulb fennel, finely shredded (optional)
    • small bunch of fresh dill, chopped
    • ½ lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp runny honey
    • 2 tbsp cold-pressed, organic linseed oil
    Directions:
    1. Remove the herrings from the oil and arrange them on a plate. Top with sliced apple, shredded fennel, if using, and sprigs of dill.
    2. Drizzle with lemon juice, honey and linseed oil. Serve with rye bread.
  8. With Red Onion and Chives                                                                            Ingredients:
    • herrings, as on previous page
    • 1 small red onion, very finely sliced
    • 2 tsp chopped fresh chives
    • 2 tbsp cold-pressed, organic linseed oil
    Directions:
    1. Remove the herrings from the oil and arrange them on a plate. Sprinkle over the red onion and chives, and drizzle with linseed oil. Serve with rye bread.
     
  9. With Sour Cream                                                                                            Ingredients:
    • herrings, as on previous page
    • 1 small apple, peeled and cubed
    • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
    • 100 ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup soured cream
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • small bunch of fresh dill, chopped
    Directions:
    1. Remove the herrings from the oil and arrange them on a plate. Scatter over the apple and red onion.
    2. In a bowl, whisk the soured cream, lemon juice and sugar. Pour this sauce over the herrings. Scatter with the dill and serve with rye bread.
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