Roasted Herring stuffed with Herbs
See below for instructions on how to scale, gut, and clean your herring. After all of that work emptying your fish, now you get to fill it with fresh herbs! I promise, this will be good.
½ stick butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
½ cup chopped FRESH herbs: any combo will do. Seriously. Dill, mint, cilantro, rosemary is delicious. Something like parsley, chives, thyme would be great too.
6 cleaned, gutted herring
2 lemons, thinly sliced
salt & pepper, as you like it
Preheat your oven to 450. Heat a skillet and 2 tablespoons butter, sauté the onion until soft. In a separate bowl, use your hands to mix your fresh herbs, shallot, and garlic, and stuff your fish.
Pull out a large baking dish, and spread your sautéed onions on the bottom of it, topped with a few of the thin lemon slices. Lay your stuffed fish on the onions, and salt and pepper your fish. Melt the remaining butter and drizzle over the fish, then top with the lemon slices. Roast for 20 minutes, uncovered. Goes great with new potatoes and a pilsner. Bon appetit!
The herring run is a holy thing in our family. My mother, who is from Denmark, could hardly believe it when her son-in-law turned out to be a herring maniac. Though I grew up eating it pickled or smoked, these mystical, silvery fish are actually quite versatile, and delicious whole. But first, you have to prep them!
How to process your whole herring:
First you have to scale it. If you don’t mind a few stray scales, set yourself up at your counter, or if it doesn’t hurt your back, try scaling them in the sink. Using a teaspoon, hold the fish by the tail, and scrape opposite the scales. Be firm, but you don’t have to go too hard, since herring scales are light. These iridescent sequins are really beautiful. Turn the fish around, you may want to hold it by the head sometimes, and just scrape until you’ve got most of the scales off.
Sharpen your paring knife. Like, really sharp. Place your scaled fish on the cutting board and slice into the fish’s “vent” (poop hole) and up to the “neck.” Use your hands and a teaspoon to scrape out the innards. You will either discover two white or orange pouches. That will tell you if it’s male (white – that’s fish sperm) or orange (female – those are eggs). Pause, and ponder the wheel of life.
Rinse your scaled, gutted fish, and get ready to cook it!