I have been obsessed with herring since I was a kid. The texture of the fish combined with the tang of shmaltz and those delicious onions mixed in may be the only reason I loved to go to shul. Usually when telling someone I love herring, I am accosted with comments such as “ewwwww, that is disgusting,” or “You are like an old Jewish man!” As of late, herring seems to have become quite popular with the younger generation. There are special websites www.shmaltzking.com where you can order gourmet quality herring in shmaltz or wine sauce. You can also go to your local fish store, where you can order the herring filet and make the herring yourself. This trend has become very popular in many communities. Recently, there was an article on a guy in NYC who will only date women who love herring – it kind of makes you wonder why he is almost 40 and can’t find his soul mate. Either way, I like it all; I like reading the articles related to herring, I like looking at the websites of all the herring I can order, and most of all, I love to eat that slimy delicious treat you always find at an orthodox shul’s lunch.
My brother in law Yaak happens to be one of my favorite cooks. It may be the fact that he enjoys food as much as I do. Lately, our mutual thrill of food is herring. Friday night I feasted on 2 of the best types of herring I have ever had, courtesy of Yaak. One was the original flavor and the second, a cilantro version. The fillet was perfectly moist, the shmalts (oil) had seeped into the fish just enough to give it extra smoothness with out making it to mushy. The onions had absorbed all the flavor of the fish and shmaltz and yet, it still maintained a satisfying crunch when you bit into it. Yaak and I grabbed some crackers, which in case you did not know happens to be the best accompaniment to this food. In one sitting we happily crunched and munched our way through most of the Herring dish.
Recipe for Standard Schmaltz:
Herring fillets from the kosher market (do this 48 hours prior to serving)
Cut the onion into bite size slices. Place 1/2 onion at the bottom of a small sealable container.
Pour oil from herring tray into container and add more canola oil to coat onions. Slice herring into 1/2 to 1 inch strips then add herring to container and add 2nd 1/2 of onion and more canola oil to coat.
Seal and refrigerate. Best served with whole wheat snacker crackers (very crispy and hold up well will scooping/dipping) Add cilantro to the above recipe for a cilantro version.
~ Recipe submitted by Aura Schwartz of Beauty and Food