Saturday, 6 April 2013

Herrings, roasted with hot stuff


As I'm writing this, the snow is falling, not just in little sugary sprinkles, but big white dollops. (Sorry my vocabulary is limited to the edible.) It's April i.e. the 6th month of a painfully long winter. I call this the awkward month. It's when you can't wear five layers without looking idiotic, but can't quite put away your woolly jumpers; when the winter cabbages and roots are getting tired, but the new spring salads are not quite here yet. I wish I had something more green and fresh and exciting to cook with but there's not much that's new on the veg front.

There are, however, some different creatures lying on the fish lady's icy counter at the farmer's market. My latest favourite is herring. It's much like the mackerel and sardine which will only be here in summer (if summer does come) - deliciously oily, healthy, and cheap as chips compared to the more popular, expensive and over-fished cod or salmon. It's great just baked with spices and something sour, but there is something about crispy skin and soft flaky flesh that feels almost essential for an oily fish.



The simplest way to do it is to rub little oily fishes with turmeric and salt and fry them in oil till golden and crispy (see ikan kuning). But the herrings I got were a bit larger and hence trickier to fry whole; also, I had borrowed a pan that looked completely gorgeous and could go into the oven, so it would be a crime not to use it in photos. I roasted them with kaffir lime leaves and bird's eye chillies.

HERRINGS ROASTED WITH KAFFIR LIME LEAVES AND CHILLI
serves 1-2 (depends on how large your appetite/herrings are)
Ingredients
2 fresh herrings
1 lime
6-8 sprigs of kaffir lime leaves
6 bird's eye chillies (less if you're chicken)
big pinch of sea salt
small pinch of turmeric
coconut oil/ groundnut oil

Method
1. To prepare herrings, snip along belly and scrape the guts out. I don't snip the head off because I relish seeing the head on my fish. Run the dull edge of the knife against the skin to remove scales. Wash and pat dry.
2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Season with salt and turmeric, rub especially generously inside the belly.Slice half the lime into thin slices and place inside the belly. I use string to tie the fish up so the lime slices don't fall out but if you can't be bothered, leave it.
3. Add enough oil to cover the base of your gorgeous oven-proof frying pan*. When oil is hot, add the kaffir lime leaves and whole bird's eye chillies to fry. This releases their fragrance/flavour without it being very spicy because the seeds and pith are still contained.
4. Pat fishes fry again (I am terrified of sputtering oil). Slip them into the oil and let it fry till crisp and golden on one side. Chuck the whole pan into the oven to finish it off and get it golden all over, about 5 min, depending on size.
5. Squeeze the juice from the remaining half of the lime over. Eat, straight from pan.

*If you don't have a gorgeous oven-proof frying pan, you can use an ugly oven-proof frying pan.
Or, you can roast this in a roasting tray at 200 degrees celsius for 15 min, plus minus,  from start to finish.
Or, you can roast-fry this in a normal frying pan, flipping over after it gets golden on one side, like this. Requires a bit of skill with larger fishes and may result in 6 pieces of herring rather than 2 though.




Midge's herrings were really fresh, caught just the day before, so there was no hint of fishiness, just the delicious rich flavour of the sea beneath their crisp golden skins.  I loved them with that bit of citrusy freshness from the limes and kaffir lime leaves, and chillies of course make everything better. The bonus bits will be the kaffir lime leaves; fried and roasted, they sort of turn into spicy, salty, fragrant leaf crisps. Might even try this with roasted peanuts. Hot stuff for the cold weather.

44 comments:

  1. cooking fish just need simple seasonings already very good!

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    1. exactly! esp if it's fresh! just sea salt is enough, really!

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  2. My dad is a total fan of herring, smoked herring fried and serve with grapes on side to be precise. I'm sure he will love this recipe, citric and spicy, fantastic. Must try!

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    1. ISmoked herring with grapes? That I've yet to try! I think your dad and I will get along very well :)

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  3. Love fish, especially with hot stuff. Love this post.

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  4. yumyumyumyumyum. going to a farmers market now to get some fresh fish!

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  5. Great little simple recipe. Love herring. Especially the pickled kind. Gorgeous!

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    1. Cheers dom! You know what I have never tried pickled herring even though it seems to be the most popular way to have herring..!

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  6. Oooh, both the fish and the frying pan look gorgeous!

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    1. thanks! I wish I owned the frying pan :(

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  7. Gorgeous fish and pan! Love the simple prep.

    Nazneen

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  8. This is such a perfect little post! And I'm in London too - that dish sounds perfect for this snowy-no-wait-is-it-sunny temperamental weather!

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    1. The past 3 days have been unusually sunny so I'm keeping my hopes up..! Pfft london weather.

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  9. Yes, sick of the snow now... :(
    I never cooked herring myself, thinks they are small and have too many bones, but I tried herring in the restaurant before, they are good. I should try it your way one day!

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    1. Must be a harsh change moving from "too-hot" singapore to "too-cold" london!

      Yes they do have a fair bit of bones but soemtimes I don't mind just crunching them down since they're so tiny haha!

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  10. Shuhan, this is most unusual way to treat the herring, but I am already a big fan! I love all the cheap fish (it's got nothing to do with overfishing but cod and salmon are the fish I like the least; mackerel, sardine or herring are among favourite!). Herring has a special place in my heart because I have been eating - and loving - it since I was a small child: vinegared pickled herring is irresistible and one can get addicted.
    Polish shops in London must carry pickled herring in different sauces, so if you like sour vinegared fish, I strongly advice it!

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    1. Between you and dom's comments, I feel like I'm totally missing out on pickled herring! I've seen them in shops, I just never thought to try them. Will have to now!

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  11. Lovely dish! I rarely see herrings at my fish markets. In fact, I'll bet most of the herrings I've ever eaten were pickled. A nice way to prepare it, but kind of one dimensional. Great job with these - I gotta try this! Thanks so much.

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    1. It's odd everyone's talkign about pickled herrings and how this is new to them, when it's the opposite for me! Pickled herring is a complete mystery to me!

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  12. Sounds simple enough but I am terrified of spluttering oil which explains why I don't fry fish :)

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    1. Aw, don't let that deter you! You could also do this the roasting way which I've mentioned!

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  13. Oh, this looks delicious. I love oily fish but we seem to get more mackerel than herring locally. I'll give this a try with mackerel...

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    1. thanks lousie! mackerel will be delicious too, in fact it's got a richer flavour I feel. can't wait for summer (and mackerel) to come !

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  14. Yum! At the age of 30 I still have a little fishy bone phobia that with determination I am losing! This recipe has made me want to go for it.

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    1. Herring does have A LOT of bones.. maybe you can start with mackerel; one step at a time. GO FOR IT.

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  15. This is fantastic Shu Han. I am rubbish at eating enough fish but I do love mackerel so I might just have to try this recipe out soon. Love the pan too. :)

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    1. cheers caz, mackerel would be amazing too! I love the pan haha, unfortunately it's not mine :(

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  16. This is just fabulous! I love learning about new preparations for fish (I live on seafood and carbs). I don't know if I've ever told you this, but yours is one of my favorite blogs. It's so well written and the illustrations (and attention to details) are out of this world beautiful!

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    1. thanks so so so much that really made my day!

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  17. These look fantastic, love the pan, too. Now if only I had a good source of wet fish in Cambridge...

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    1. pfft can you not find farmer's markets in Cambridge? preposterous. hunt around, don't give up!

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  18. I love your foodie description of the snow....although I don't particularly like the snow. :P Sorry where you live is still freezing. I love winter, but just not for a long time. Your Herrings looks divine. I love roasting fish whole too. :) They just taste better that way, I guess.

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    1. HEH I'm afraid my vocabulary is largely limited because I mainly write about and read about food.

      Roasting fish whole keeps it moist because it's kept on the bone, so there's more room for imperfect timing!

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  19. It's been too long since I sat down for a leisurely visit to your blog, fellow fish head lover! I love your edible vocab BTW. Herring is hard to come by here, but I shall make a special trip to the real fishmonger to try this recipe(surprisingly, there are only a couple of real fishmongers in LA, can you believe it?) Such nostalgia for fish stands at farmer's markets, just like in France. They just don't do that here... Beautiful pan and photo :-) Pinned it. Hang in there, warmth is around the corner. If it doesn't come, come hang out with Pablo and I in sunny LA :-)

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    1. Welcome back helene! So so nice to see you in the comments again. Haha I'm quite worried that my language abilities have gone the wrong way heh.

      I can't believe there are hardly any fishmongers in LA! You would think in such a large cosmopolitan area, that good food and produce shoudl be easier to come by! I think it;s because so many of us are used to having fish already cut into pretty slices and slabs, wrapped in clear plastic. SUCH a shame!

      I WISH I CAN GO TO LA GRRRRRRRRRRRR

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  20. I need you to fly to Canada and make me this, please? That would be real sweet of you xo

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    1. If you pay for my air fare I will happily fly there I need some sun!

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  21. Looks really delicious! You have a lovely space!! Do visit/follow mine when you have time. :)
    http://www.rita-bose-cooking.com/

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  22. seriously, you have the best blog in the world. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post and the pics. herring is good, i saw some in a jar the other day but got sardines instead.

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  23. Hi Shu Han,

    We like eating Spanish mackerel but find herrings and sardines a little too fishy for us. Totally agree that roasting herrings with kaffir lime leaves and chillies are truly hot and great stuff!

    Zoe

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  24. Beautiful post as always. I imagine this is quite awakening, I could do with that!

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  25. Those kaffir lime crisps sound incredible! I've always wondered what they'd be like fried or roasted.

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