Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Bit More About Herring

Atlantic herring are called brit for the first year, sardines if under 17.5cm (7"), sea herring (or bloater or roe herring) if larger than 23cm (9"). Full grown herring may reach lengths of 43cm (14").

Herring, in all its various forms, is commonly eaten by people around the Bay of Fundy in the following ways:

Eaten Fresh - steamed, pan fried, baked, BBQ'd

Smoked as Kippers - the head and guts removed and the herring are split down the back into a butterfly fillet, then lightly salted and smoked while pinned to a board for a couple of days. These fillets need refrigeration and are often eaten for breakfast.

Smoked as Bloaters - developed before refrigeration, the fish are heavily salted and then smoked - the process involves stringing herring on sticks like beads, hanging them in smoke houses until finished, taking them to boning sheds to have skin and bones removed and packing in wooden boxes before shipping. The fillets are sometimes called "Digby Chicks". They are eaten as is or soaked and then poached in milk.

Sardines - When herring are small they are called sardines, not to be confused with species of sardines (Sardinia sp. including pilchards) found in the Mediterranean and western Europe. Small sardine herring, with heads and tails removed, are packed into cans with soya oil, spring water or other sauces such as tomato, mustard, etc. Although it is possible to automate the procedure, many sardines are still packed by hand. Once the lid is applied the cans go into a retort oven which cooks the fish in the tin.

Pickled - a tasty treat of smoked or fresh herring chunks, pickling spices, onions, sugar and vinegar.

Pickled herring (known as "Solomon Gundy") is commonly found in Fundy area grocery stores as are kippers, and, of course, Connors Brothers canned herring with their various sauces. I remember my dad taking a couple of cans of herring with his lunch every day in case he needed a snack...and to think potato chips were invented by then and he chose herring instead!

Herring eggs are also used as caviar or in sushi - my personal favourite but not as commonly found out here in rural areas. No wonder there is something about sushi, with its seaweed, fish and roe, that tasted awfully familiar when I first ate it!

In addition to being used as bait for lobster traps, one other non-food use for herring involves the scales....
herring scales are collected and transformed into "Pearl Essence" (used in nail polish, lip gloss, pearly buttons, automotive paint, etc.)

(this information about herring exerpted from the Grand Manan Island website)

No comments: