Herring, just like sardine, sprat, and anchovy, belongs to the herring family. It belongs to schooling fish that live in the Baltic and North Seas and throughout the entire North Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Greenland and North Carolina.
The fish reaches up to 40 centimeters in length, with some individuals living up to 20 years. Shoals of herring can be seen in the open sea with the naked eye, as the surface of the fish’s body shines very brightly. Underwater, the back of the fish is reflected in colors ranging from yellowish green to blue-black and blue-green. The sides of the fish have a silvery color that turns into white from top to bottom.
Herring feeds with zooplankton and often becomes the prey of other marine animals themselves. Deprived of an aquatic environment, this fish loses its luster and, acquiring an ordinary blue-green color, becomes rather unremarkable. Characteristic features of herring are scales without thorns, smooth gill covers, and a lower jaw that is larger than the upper one. The fish ventral fin is located under the dorsal fin. Between the beginning of March and the end of April, herring becomes especially fatty and tasty, as spawning occurs at this time when millions of individuals head to harbors and river estuaries to throw eggs.
International names of herring
- Lat .: Clupea harengus
- German: Hering
- English: Herring
- Fr .: Hareng
- Spanish: Arenque
- Italian: Aringa
Nutritional value of 100 g Atlantic herring (edible parts, boneless):
Energy value: 776 kJ / 187 calories
Basic composition: water – 62.4%, proteins – 18.2%, fats – 17.8%
- Saturated fatty acids: 2.9 g
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: 5.9 g
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 3.3 g, of which:
- omega-3 – 2.8 g
- omega-6 – 0.2 g
- Cholesterol: 68 mg
- Sodium 117 mg
- Potassium 360 mg
- Calcium 34 mg
- Magnesium 31 mg
- Iodine 40 mg
- Phosphorus 250 mg
- Iron 1.1 mg
- Selenium 43 mcg
- Vitamin A 38 μg
- B1 40 μg
- Vitamin B2 220 μg
- D 27 μg
- Vitamin PP 3.8 mg
Herring is found in the Baltic and North Seas, as well as throughout the North Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Greenland and the east coast of America.
In the fishing industry, herring is caught on the high seas using trawl nets. The fish’s movement is tracked by sonar, which allows you to determine its direction with high accuracy. In the coastal zones, these fish are caught with gill nets and on the coast – with the help of seines and fixed seines.
Use of herring
Firstly, no other fish has such huge economic and political importance as herring. In the Middle Ages, it often saved people from starvation. Wars were fought over herring, and its existence is directly related to the Hanseatic League’s formation. For example, herring and products represent about one-fifth of the fish supplied to the German market.
Useful properties of herring
Research has shown that herring increases the body’s content of so-called “good cholesterol” – high-density lipoproteins, which, unlike “bad cholesterol,” significantly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
Besides, this fish fat reduces adipocyte fat cells’ size, which may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Herring also reduces the content of oxidation products in blood plasma; that is, it contains antioxidants.
Recently, there have been an increasing number of reports claiming that eating oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and cod) protects against asthma. This is due to the action of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium.
It has been proven that people with low levels of magnesium in their bodies are most susceptible to asthma attacks. A lack of omega-3 fats is often associated with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, weak immune system, etc. Herring contains niacin and vitamin D, which are also important factors in bones and the nervous system’s health and promote absorption.
Interesting facts about herring
Until the 15th century, only beggars and monks ate herring – despite the fact that it was known for a very long time. The fact is that the herring was tasteless: it smelled of rancid fat, but most importantly, it tasted very bitter.
Then, there was a “herring coup”: a simple fisherman from Holland, Willem Boykelzoon, removed the herring gills before salting. The finished herring turned out to be not bitter at all but very tasty.
Even though Boykelzoon found a way to make the fish tasty, he remained a secret – no one knew how to cut the fish properly. Special cutters lived in a separate house on the shore and butchered herring in the sea so that no one spied on how they removed the gills. They could not even marry – they were afraid that a talkative wife would get caught and spread the secret of delicious herring to all Holland.
- A large amount of salts prevents the removal of harmful substances with the liquid. Because of this, it is contraindicated for:
- people with high blood pressure;
- people with kidney disease;
- suffering from puffiness.
Secrets and cooking methods
Usually, herring is served either salted or pickled. However, it is not only consumed raw (in the Netherlands) but also added to pies, salads, hot meals, soups, and snacks.
The most famous dish that comes to mind first is herring under a fur coat. Not a single New Year’s table is complete without it in the former USSR countries.
But not only a fur coat is made with herring. There are many other salads with this fish. It goes well with apples (especially sour varieties like Granny) and sour cream and cucumber, bell pepper, celery, and hard cheese. Of the well-known combinations, you can recall boiled potatoes and onions pickled in vinegar. Few people know, but this combination originated in Norway.
This fish tastes unusual when fried. Fillets are deboned, breaded in flour and simply fried in vegetable oil. The result is golden crispy pieces. On the Don, gutted fish, separated from the head and peeled, are fried whole. Fish soup made from fresh herring, onions and potatoes is also good.
Herring baked with lemon in foil can be safely served on the festive table – it looks very elegant. They are baked either simply with vegetable oil or on a pillow of onions, carrots, and mayonnaise. The pie will be no less worthy decoration of the table. You can make it even with yeast, even with aspic, even with puff pastry and a variety of fillings.
- 2 herring;
- 1 liter of water;
- 2 tablespoons of salt;
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3-4 bay leaves;
- black peppercorns, allspice, and cloves – to taste.
- Remove gills from fish; they can make the marinade bitter. It is not necessary to gut and peel the herring. You can rinse and dry with paper towels.
- Boil water. Add salt, sugar, and spices. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Get a plastic container or an enamel pot with a lid. Put herring there and cover with cooled brine. If the brine does not completely cover the fish, use pressure. Otherwise, you will have to turn the herring from time to time.
- Let stand for 3 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate. After 48 hours, you can try.
Enjoy your meal!