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Smoked Herring or Salted Smoked Herring: Everything You Need to Know

Smoked Herrings

Smoked herring is a delicious and nutritious fish that people around the world have enjoyed for centuries. It is made by salting and then smoking herring, a small, oily fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Smoked herring can be eaten on its own, as an appetizer, or used in a variety of dishes.

There are many varieties of smoked or salty fish at the markets and stores, each with a unique taste. That unique taste comes from the type of fish or meat used during the salting and smoking process. You may be tempted to try something new if you’re a little bit of a no-fuss cook. 

Smoked Herrings served with tomatoes, boiled beets, boiled plantains and cucumbers

What is salted smoked herring?

Salted smoked herring is a herring that has been cured in salt and then smoked. This process preserves the fish and gives it a unique flavor and texture. Salted smoked herring is typically sold whole or as fillets.

How Smoked Herring or Salted Smoked Herring is Used in the Caribbean

Smoked Herring is used in the Caribbean in many different ways. When added to vegetable stews and salads, cooked in rice, bulgur wheat, cornmeal, eggs, or any other type of food, it provides an exquisite taste and a subtle fish aroma. You can create many dishes, from fritters to dip and even a spread as an appetizer. Used the same way as salt fish, this wonderful, tasty fish provides tons of flavor and cooks very quickly. 

Herrings are found in many parts of the world. It may even be considered a staple seafood in many cultures. Herring are forage fish with a long history and are often sold salted, smoked, or pickled. Herrings are marketed both as delicacies and everyday foods. 

How to eat smoked herring

Smoked herring can be eaten on its own, as an appetizer, or used in a variety of dishes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Eat it on its own: Smoked herring is delicious on its own, with a little bit of mustard or horseradish.
  • Use it as an appetizer: Smoked herring can be served as an appetizer with crackers, bread, or vegetables.
  • Add it to salads: Smoked herring can be added to salads for a boost of flavor and nutrition.
  • Use it in sandwiches and wraps: Smoked herring is a great addition to sandwiches and wraps.
  • Cook it with other ingredients: Smoked herring can be cooked with other ingredients, such as potatoes, onions, and tomatoes, to make a delicious main course.

Health benefits of smoked herring

Smoked herring is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health, brain health, and inflammation reduction. Vitamin D is important for bone health, immune function, and mood.

Where to buy Smoked Herring

Whole or fillet Smoked herring can be found at most grocery stores, West Indian and Spanish markets, fish markets, Amazon, and specialty food stores. It is typically sold in the refrigerated or frozen section. You can also find pickled herrings in specialty stores as well as canned. 

How to buy

Buying smoked herrings can be as easy as buying bread. Either buy whole or fillets. You will often find whole herrings with both tail and head-on. Fillets are sold boneless or with bones. The bones are soft but not edible. 

Whole-skinned herrings sometimes have a thin layer of extra salt. It is better to rinse them before soaking them. No matter how you buy your herring, it should always look fresh and not stale. Always make sure to check for “the best use by date.”  

Canned or jarred are sold in specialty stores and as well as several local gourmet markets. Usually filleted, they are used differently in recipes than their counterparts. Filleted, canned, and jarred are usually more expensive than whole herrings. 

How to use 

Depending on the recipe, you may have to rinse and de-salt the herrings, the same process used for salt fish. The desalting can be done in two ways: a quick boil or a soak of the herrings for a few hours in water. Overnight soaking is not recommended, as all the salt may be entirely removed. If very salty, it is recommended to soak the fish for as long as you need it to be desalted. 

Preparation for cooking

Depending on the type, you may want to remove any scaling, skin, and bones from the whole herring. Some fillets may still have a few bones in them. Remove gently with a pair of kitchen shears. 

Adding salt to the recipe is not necessary. If you add salt, the dish will be ruined and will be salty. Using a salt-free seasoning like NouBess Fish and Seafood Seasoning or fresh herbs and spices is best. 

Facts about Smoked Herrings

  • Hypertension sufferers have said that their blood pressure increases even after completely desalting smoked and salted fish. That goes even for salted codfish or bacalao
  • The smell is very strong. Always keep the smoked fish well-wrapped. It might make everything smell in your refrigerator. Open your windows when cooking and let the fresh air in. You may also want to have a pot of water with vinegar boiling while cooking your herrings. Many people claim that it helps remove the smell in the kitchen. 
  • Some people will boil the herrings in milk instead of water. Any difference? It is only a preference. 
  • Tomatoes, thyme, hot peppers, and onions are perfect companions for herrings. 
  • The flavor is unique! Smoky, fishy with a hint of salt,
Smoked Herrings served with tomatoes, boiled beets, boiled plantains and cucumbers

Recipe ideas

Herring is a great addition to many foods. Add it to grain dishes such as rice, bulgur wheat, or cornmeal for a complete meal. Cook it with lots of onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs for a quick and easy meal.

Smoked herring is a delicious and nutritious fish that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. If you are looking for a new and healthy way to enjoy fish, smoked herring is a great option.




Originally published July 21, 2019. Revised and updated.

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