What do I do with this herring?
September 15, 2014 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I thought about switching up my breakfast routine this week and decided to hard boil some eggs and eat some fish with it. At the store, I bought a package of "smoked, salted herring". After breakfast this morning, I realized they are not really edible as-is. What do I do with them?

The herring came from the seafood counter and was in one of those styrofoam trays. They're filets, still with a few small bones in them, and very very salty. I ate one this morning, and it was inedibly salty straight out of the package. A quick rinse under cold water helped a little bit, but it seems like they need to be soaked or something. How do I prepare these so that I can eat the rest of them?
posted by backseatpilot to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Repeated soaking in water and drainings will lessen the saltiness a bit. Sometimes I let mine soak overnight. I don't do much more than slight heating in a skillet for a minute.
posted by dukes909 at 7:31 AM on September 15, 2014

You'll find a million recipes under the Spanish name bacalao, or their Jamaican name, saltfish (technically that's salted cod, but these days it applies to pretty much any salt-preserved whitefish). Most recipes require soaking them in water (or milk) overnight, changing the liquid a few times, to draw out the salt, though some recipes (like fritters, aka bacalaitos) will just have you boil them for a little bit instead and retain a lot of the salt.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:49 AM on September 15, 2014

For breakfast fish goodness, I can't recommend the smoked trout from Trader Joe's highly enough. It's in the canned fish aisle. It's fantastic.
posted by rtha at 8:04 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

I knew I saw this on a two fat ladies episode: Jugged Kippers
posted by Diablevert at 8:33 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like herring, but I think it works best when you eat it with something very plain, with little salt content, like crackers (the not heavily salted types) or bread. It balances out the salt.
posted by Aranquis at 8:49 AM on September 15, 2014

Nthing TJ's canned smoked trout.
posted by jgirl at 9:20 AM on September 15, 2014

If it's super salty, definitely soak in water to get rid of some of the salt as said above. Also echoing the eating/cooking with something plain. Since you already wanted to eat it with boiled eggs as breakfast, how about adding some rice and other things to make kedgeree by replacing the smoked haddock with your herring?
posted by kkokkodalk at 9:47 AM on September 15, 2014

Most dry/dried salted fish need to be soaked in several changes of water to rehydrate and draw out the salt. Really good in an omelette!

If you'd like, it's really simple to make your own cured salmon.

You'll need:

2 sides of salmon, skin on, head/tail/bones removed. Go over the flesh with your hands and a pair of tweezers in case any pin bones are left. Make a 2:1 mix of salt (kosher or sea, not iodized table salt) and sugar--brown sugar is nicest. Cover the flesh of one side in the mixture about 1/2" / 1cm thick, place the other side, flesh sides towards each other. Pack the salt/sugar around the whole package, wrap tightly in saran wrap. Place on a tray (ideally on a rack above a tray) and leave in your fridge for 24 hours. If your fish is thick, rinse and repack with a new salt/sugar mix, and cure for another 24. Cured fish, ready for breakfast. You can do this with smaller pieces, just for less time, and you can do with single pieces.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:19 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I soaked a couple filets in a bowl of water in the fridge overnight and they came out just right this morning.

I appreciate the other fish ideas. This herring seemed the most economical ($5/lb versus $2+/can for the tinned stuff) and it's pretty tasty once it rehydrates a little bit. The only downside is that I smell like fish all morning.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:49 AM on September 16, 2014

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