It is herring season. There is a season for herring?
Well, yes. You can find herring all year long, but they are the tastiest right now. The females are full of roe and and males are full of milt. Both are nice and plump, full of zooplankton and krill. Forage fish such as these, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies are the most nutritious in terms of fatty acids. Since these types of fish are most likely caught instead of farmed, they usually are not hormone fed. Best of all, they are surprisingly part of the least expensive types of fish to buy.
I ended up with 6 females full of roe (which I later pan fried and ate with my fingers before I even snapped a shot.)
I decided to bake them. Baking may not be the best solution if you are a first-time herring taster. What you must know about herring is that it has very fine bones.. but a ton of them. Baking them in this way will give you the freshest herring taste, but you have to be ready to pick the bones out of your plate. That doesn't bother me so much, but it does bother many. The way to make the bones dissolve is by pickling. I may have to try that one day.
6 whole herrings, scaled and gutted
12 long Javanese pepper berries
juice from 1/2 lemon
drizzle olive oil
few pinches fleur de sel
few pinches piment d'espelette
small handful chopped cilantro
1 onion, sliced into moons
1 Tbsp olive oil
1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy based pan or wok and sautée the onions until golden.
2. While this is happening, arrange the herring in a baking pan. Mix together the lemon juice, fleur de sel, piment d'espelette, and olive oil. Rub this mixture all over the outside and inside of each herring.
Place 2 long Javanese pepper berries in the cavity of each fish and top with the chopped cilantro.
Add the sautéed onions onto the prepared fish.
3. Bake at 200°F 400°C for 15 minutes.
I served mine with some roasted carrots and a shredded red cabbage salad.
The long Javanese pepper is very important for the flavoring. It gives it a subtle smokey flavor.. and everyone knows herring loves to be smoked.