Some say that “manje deyò” – food eaten out – tastes better than the food served at home. While I am known to also say that every once in a while when I grow tired of eating the same food prepared the same way all the time, you will never catch me saying so about the hareng saur dish pictured above.
Hareng Saur, herring in English, is a fish which salted smoked version is quite popular in our Haitian cuisine. We eat it for breakfast with boiled plantains, at lunch and dinnertime with corn meal and even use it as a tartlet filling. Another popular herring-based appetizer is the chiquetaille hareng, a dish that ranks high on my list of favorite preparations of this local staple. We eat it with bread, crackers or even some good local cassave.
Similar to a ceviche, chiquetaille is very much like a meat or fish salad or even a pickle that can be prepared with herring, codfish, ham or chicken, according to one’s preferences.
When it comes to this Haitian appetizer, nothing beats the taste of home or better said the taste of the chiquetaille hareng my mom prepares, not even grandma’s. If you keep track of this blog, you know I often celebrate my grandmother as a cordon bleu. So if my mom can beat her, you should really just take my word for it and try the recipe below.
Indeed, my mom makes the best herring chiquetaille I have ever eaten and believe I will ever eat in my lifetime. Of course, she scolds us for saying that especially since my sister and I now make it a habit to criticize others’ preparation. In our defense, “leu sa bon, fo’w di li bon, ” when something is done well, you must sing its praises.
I try to avoid preparing it myself as much as I can, another habit of mine my mom disagrees with for she says I can make it as well as she does on my own. She could be right, I mean this is probably the easiest and quickest dish to prepare as long as you have all the ingredients – which are just a few – lined up. Then again, I chose to believe she adds a little something extra to it by preparing it herself.
Now I know you won’t all get to sample her chiquetaille, so I am sharing her recipe below. Please try it and let me know how you like it.
The recipe is simple yet so delightful. It is probably the quickest Haitian appetizer ever made. Whereas some tend to cook the herring, a process, which I have come to realize, hardens this fish, the recipe below allows the fish to cook in the vinegar or lime juice used for the preparation just like it would be done with a ceviche. It also calls for herring filet, which makes a more tender chiquetaille than other parts of the fish would.
Please also note that smoked herring is salty on its own, and that the provided recipe skips the desalting step. We do so because we like to retain the saltiness of the herring which makes a bolder chiquetaille. For a low-sodium version of the recipe below, soak the fish in water for a couple of hours and then drain it before following the recipe below.
- Salted smoked herring filet
- Whole black pepper
- Piment bouc
- Vinegar (white or cider apple to your taste)
- Vegetable oil or olive oil
- Flake the herring filet and put in a glass container
- Thinly slice the onion, carrot and piment bouc and add to the flaked herring along with the whole pepper
- Add the vinegar and oil and mix
- Let the chiquetaille macerate for a couple of hours or days (the flavors develop and fully blend with time) and serve with fresh bread, crackers or cassava.