How to Cook Salty Herring Fish That Is Sold With Salt

dried fish
Three salted herring fish sit on a white counter. (Image: Somrakjendee/iStock/Getty Images)

Salting is a traditional way to preserve fish, and herring is often salted because it spoils very rapidly. Salted herring is most often associated with Scandinavia, where herring has been a traditional part of the diet for centuries. Many home cooks in America are confused about what to do with salted herring because they aren't familiar with the salting process, but all you must do is soak the fish in fresh water overnight and then cook the herring in your preferred method.

Sautéed Salted Herring

Step 1

Place the salt herring in a large bowl and cover it with 8 cups of water, or enough water to cover the fish entirely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the herring in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 2

Remove the bones from the herring with a boning knife and remove the head and the tail of the herring. Split the herring in two halves. Remove the skin and discard it.

Step 3

Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic to the pan and sauté the garlic until it begins to pop.

Step 4

Add the herring and sauté the fillets for three minutes per side, or until they are opaque and cooked through.

Step 5

Add fresh ground pepper to taste and garnish with lemon wedges.

Pan-Fried Herring

Step 1

Place the salt herring in a large bowl and cover it with 8 cups of water, or enough water to cover the fish entirely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the herring in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 2

Remove the bones from the herring with a boning knife and remove the head and the tail of the herring. Split the herring in two halves. Remove the skin and discard it.

Step 3

Heat 3 cups of olive oil in a skillet over high heat until it is very hot, or approximately 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4

Dredge the herring fillets in milk, and then in flour or seasoned oatmeal.

Step 5

Add the herring to the pan and fry the herring on both sides until the flour or oatmeal coating is crispy and brown and the herring is cooked through. Serve the herring with parsley and a lemon wedge.

Baked Herring

Step 1

Place the salt herring in a large bowl and cover it with 8 cups of water, or enough water to cover the fish entirely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the herring in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 2

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Remove the bones from the herring with a boning knife and remove the head and the tail of the herring. Split the herring in two halves. Remove the skin and discard it.

Step 4

Baste the herring in 3 tbsp. olive oil and place it in a baking dish. Bake the herring for three minutes, or until the herring is opaque all the way through.

Step 5

Remove the herring from the oven and add fresh ground pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil for sautéing or 3 cups for frying

  • 4 cloves minced garlic, optional

  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges for garnish

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

  • 2 cups flour, optional

  • 2 cups seasoned oatmeal, optional

  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

  • Large bowl

  • Boning knife

  • Skillet

  • Spatula

  • Baking dish

  • Basting brush

Tip

Salt herring does not require additional seasoning with salt because even after the herring has been soaked it will retain a salty finish.

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