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For me, the humble herring, once the food of the poor, is a great delicacy with all the gutsy flavors of fresh sardines but lots more juicy flesh. Now they can be bought boned and filleted and are cooked in moments. The lime and pepper crust is fragrant and slightly crunchy. Squeeze lots of lime juice over before you start eating – it cuts through the richness perfectly.
2 herring fillets weighing 6-7 oz each
1 rounded teaspoon whole mixed peppercorns
1 rounded teaspoon plain flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
First of all crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar – not too fine, so they still have some texture. Then grate the zest of the limes and add half of it to the peppercorns, then add the flour. Mix them all together and spread the mixture out on a flat plate. Wipe the herrings dry with kitchen paper and coat the flesh side with the flour-pepper mixture. Press the fish well in to give it a good coating – anything left on the plate can be used to dust the skin side lightly.
Now in your largest frying pan, heat the oil until it is very hot and fry the herrings flesh-side down for about 2-3 minutes. Have a peek by lifting up the edge with a fish slice – it should be golden. Then turn the fish over on to the other side and give it another 2 minutes, and drain on crumpled silicone paper (baking parchment) before serving. Serve sprinkled with crushed salt, the rest of the lime zest and the limes cut into quarters to squeeze over.
Herring flesh has a delicate flavor that works well with many fresh herbs.If you prefer canned or tinned herring we have a huge selection