recipe: Pickled Herring

Perhaps one of the most iconic dishes to represent Denmark would be herring – pickled herring, in particular. Pickled herring is a Scandinavian delicacy, and dates back to Medieval times, as this was an efficient way to transport fish and keep it edible over long periods of time. It is usually served during Lent, and is eaten with dark ry bread, crip bread, sour cream, and potatoes. When served during Christmas, Easter, or Midsummer, it usually eaten alongside akvavit, a spirit flavored with carraway and dill. This recipe will show you how you can pickle your own herring at home.




  • 2 herrings
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parsley



To prepare the herrings, first cut off the heads, slit their bellies, and remove the entrails, scraping the insides well. Cut off the tail and fins. Rinse the fish thoroughly, and scrape and pull the bluish skin as you go. Just be careful to not tear the skin. Carefuly remove the spine and whatever other bones you can without damaging the inner muscle or skin.


Let the fillets soak in cold water for two hours, While waiting, start slicing the onion into thin rings and set aside. Mix together the vinegar, water, and bay leaf.


After soaking for two hours, drain the fish and cut into squares that are about 2 ½ inches wide. Arrange a layer of herring squares in a shallow baking pan, and evenly top this layer with some of the onion rings. Repeat this with the remaining herring squares and onions. Lastly, pour the vinegar-water mixture on it. Chill in a refrigerator overnight.


Before serving, drain the herrings and toss it up with the onion rings. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley, alongside your side dish of choice.



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