An impromptu olfactory visit of a neighbor’s kitchen while he’s cooking mayi ak aransò. A smoked herring mousse. Cold polenta bites. My mom’s exceptional chiquetaille recipe… so many smoked herring stories have found their way on this blog.
There is no denying that I am fond of this smoked salted fish that makes its way to us from Europe.
I must confess one thing, however. As much as I enjoy a good herring flavored dish, it’s a fish I never actually bothered cooking myself.
The reason? Kind of a silly one for someone claiming to love to cook. Herring is simply too pungent of a fish.
From its plastic wrapper to utensils, hands, nails, clothes, or even a neighbor’s house, this fish permeates everything it comes in contact with. For a long time, I thus avoided touching it with my bare hands.
My aversion to its perfume is such that I even went as far as to refuse to pick up herring at the grocery store!
Yes, this is coming from a home cook who enjoys eating herring-flavored dishes. Let’s just say that my love for this fish is relative. We get along so long as it only comes into contact with my palate and my palate only.
At least, such was the case until recently when I decided that it was about time I finally learned to cook it myself. It was only normal that I do so after more than three years spent writing this blog.
About three weeks ago, I thus took it upon myself to finally pick up some smoked herring at the grocery store. I, of course, only used two fingers to lift the package, but that’s beside the point.
I finally bought some smoked herring on my own!
I did not stop at that. In order to make sure I would actually cook it myself without help, I did not tell anyone about my plans. After observing my mom preparing it on a regular basis, I knew it was easy and quick to prepare. All it would require was a short list of ingredients: garlic, onion, bell pepper, piment bouc and black peppercorn.
I just needed a little reminder of the instructions, which I got from my mom just minutes before heading into the kitchen. All I had to do was fry the herring in hot oil and then complement it with the fresh ingredients listed above.
Yes, I finally prepared this oil-fried herring, also known as “salèz hareng.”
I like this preparation of herring for its versatility. You can eat your fried herring with boiled plantain or mayi moulen, turn it into a mousse, make tartlets or even use it to stuff our famous pate kòde, which by themselves deserve an article that I promise to write soon.
If like me, you’re reluctant to touch herring with your bare hands, arm yourself with scissors to flake the fish, and wash your hands several times during the preparation. It’s that simple. 😉
Please note that smoked salted herring is very salty. You should soak it in water prior to cooking it so as to reduce the amount of sodium. You may have to dump the water twice during the process if you’re on a low-sodium diet.
- Hareng Saur (Salted Smoked Herring)
- Bell Pepper
- Piment Bouc
- Black Peppercorn
- Oil for frying
- Soak your herring in some cold water for at least one hour
- Chop the onions, shallots, bell pepper, piment bouc and garlic
- Drain the herring and flake it using a knife or scissors (I prefer scissors)
- Heat your oil in a frying pot
- Drop the herring in the hot oil and fry for a few minutes. Be careful not to leave it too long so the herring doesn’t dry out and turn crispy
- Add the chopped ingredients, the peppercorn and the piment bouc
- Cook for a few minutes just long enough for the onions to become translucent
- Enjoy with your favorite sides or as an appetizer.