The herring was a humble presence during my childhood, indeed it was often the butt of jokes because of its low status. Smoked it accompanied bean dishes and pickled it found its place on the table of the elderly.
When I was in the fishmongers recently I found myself admiring some fresh line-caught herring from Cornwall. I briefly contemplated pickling them but decided against it: lightly floured and shallow fried for a few minutes would be perfect. This is my belated attempt to celebrate the shunned herring and elevate it to its rightful status. Herring is quite firm but not as strong tasting as sardines. I plan on buying herring again very soon, it’s so versatile perhaps for next time grilled with a little chilli and some crushed cannellini beans on the side.
I was pleased with the overall result, all the flavours worked well together and it was surprisingly filling. The baba ganoush is in its simplest form, in a meze I would sprinkle some cumin or pepper seeds. I made my own sourdough bread and I folded in some caraway seeds at that start of the process. I used whole wheat flour to fry the fish in and it was definitely the right decision, it gave the fish a wonderful colour and a slightly nutty flavour which was very satisfying.
Pickles can be shop bought, but I made my own 10 days in advance of making this dish – Recipe for picked turnips.
Enough for 2 as a main course.
3 Herring (cleaned and filleted)
40g of whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of salt
Half a lemon
1 tablespoon of chopped flat leaf parsley
2 medium sized aubergines
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of tahini paste
1 glove of garlic crushed with salt
6 slices of sourdough bread with caraway seeds or rye bread. (If making your own bread just add a teaspoon of caraway seeds to your usual sourdough recipe at the beginning and fold into the dough)
- Preheat oven to 200◦C / 400F / Gas 6
- Rinse aubergines and pierce with a fork a few times. Place them whole on an oven tray which has been covered with foil and put them in oven for 55 minutes or until flesh is very soft.
- In a bowl mix the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and crushed garlic.
- When the aubergines are ready and while still warm slit them with a knife length ways and scoop the flesh with a spoon into the bowl with the other ingredients. Roughly mash everything together with a fork. Set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan.
- On a large plate place the flour with the salt. Flour each of the herring and fry skin side down first. Cooking time depends on size but 4 minutes should be sufficient.
- Serve the herring with chopped parsley and lemon.