Silver darlings with pea purée and hazelnut hasselbacks potatoes
Herring comes from the old German word for multitude. There used to be so plentiful and so loved that the Britons called them silver darlings. In fact they were so loved and fished that they were eventually endangered. They provided work and nutritious protein in poor times. Sweden has a similar history, herring was so plentiful it was cured to keep it and that built a domestic as well as an export industry that at one point counted for 17% of Sweden’s export in the 1700 century!
In both countries the herring population diminished and it is still regulated but the populations are growing. I did notice that they came in to season a while back and right now they are large and look so delicious. They are so large I got only four and and it was plenty for dinner.
My mother would have patted the herring fillets down with flour, salt and pepper, pan fried it, made some mash, served it with lingonberry jam and a salad or grated carrot. I loved the pan fried flavour and wanted to re create it for dinner. I did have quite a lot on my mind and decided to cook something that really made the herring stand out. That would of course take some time and it was perfect as it allowed me to sort my thoughts out whilst chopping, puréeing and gutting.
I started by making Hasselbacks potatoes, a Swedish invented dish when you slice the potatoes almost all the way through, sprinkle them with salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. A small knob of butter and roast them in the oven, I did mine on 180C or 360F for about 40-45 minutes. I chopped some hazelnuts fine instead of breadcrumbs as I didn’t have any and it worked a treat.
Whilst they were cooking I scaled and filleted the herrings. They were full of roe that I also wanted to cook.
I set the fillets and the milts aside as they would cook in no time.
Last time I cooked herring roe I pan fried it. It wasn’t sensational so this time I decided to smoke it. A while back I got all enthusiastic about smoking guns and got one. Like most kitchen gadgets it doesn’t get used too often but it brings the most amazing flavour.
Smoked herring roe
preparation time 5 minutes
cooking time 4 minutes + smoking
need a smoking gun unless smoking it outside
- roe from 2 herrings
- 1 dl or 1/2 cup of water
Rinse the roe and place in a pan with the water. Put the lid on, bring to a boil and take off as soon as it is cooked. This will only take a few minutes so keep an eye on it. You will know when it is cooked as the roe will have hardened.
Fill the smoke chamber and add the smoke to the roe, keeping the lid on as close as possible and once done, put the lid back on and let stand until serving.
It doesn’t look fantastic but I loved the added smokiness.
Fish and peas is a great combination and I thought that pea purée would be nice with the herring. I was tempted to try to smoke the peas as well whilst at it but thought the better of it in the end. I will save that for another day.
preparation time 2 minutes
cooking time 5 minutes + blending
- 2 dl or 1 cup salted water
- 4 dl or 2 cups of frozen green peas
- salt to taste
Place peas and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Let boil for 4-5 minutes and drain off the water. Place the peas in a blender and blend until smooth. I didn’t add anything else, the purée had a very smooth, pure taste of peas that I really liked. I was on stand by with cream and/or butter. The salt in the boiling water had done it’s part and I didn’t even need to add salt.
I pan fried the fillets and the milts in a little oil after giving them a dusting of salt and pepper just before serving.
I walked past the fishermen this afternoon and there is plenty more herring, I might need to get some more this weekend and put some fillets in the freezer. It should be perfect as an antidote to the upcoming Christmas excess I am sure!
The day after the fishmonger had cold smoked some of the herrings so I couldn’t resists some of those as well. I had some pea purée left that I could use.
I peeled 12 cloves of garlic and simmered them in 1 dl or 1/2 cup of chicken broth until soft, about 15-20 minutes under lid. I then blitzed them until smooth in the blender. They didn’t need anything else I thought.
I made some courgette ribbons that I blanched and I pan fried the herring fillets in a little oil, it will cook in a minute or two. The extra smokiness came through and the meat is a bit firmer, absolutely delicious. I love garlic with seafood and the purée added the mellowed flavour of the cooked garlic.
I am bringing this dish to my favourite foodie party, Angie’s Fiesta Friday, don’t forget to check out her beautiful looking Christmas tarts! This week her co hosts are Michelle, Giraffes Can Bake, and MB, Bourbon and Brown Sugar. Michelle brought some absolutely delicious looking Bounty truffles, I really wish I could have one, but recipe saved, and I am sure that MB’s Cranberry Mojito will go down a treat and make for a very festive Christmas!