Herring is enjoyed by our northern European neighbours enjoy as it comes – is it time we skipped the kipper?
Herring used to be a staple fish in these isles, but it has long since been sidelined by more demure species that are less full-on fishy. That’s not the case elsewhere. Scandinavians and Germans are positively obsessed with herring.
Same story in Holland, where the silver darling crowds out all else on the fishmonger’s slab. Stroll alongside Amsterdam’s canals, and you’ll catch the distinctive whiff from the city’s famous stalls selling snack-size portions of succulent herring with onion pickle – a bargain at €3 a shot.
The upside of Britain’s cold-shouldering of this fine species, with its creamy, firm flesh and dependable flavour, is that stocks are relatively buoyant. Don’t be wimpy about bones and pungent fish oil. Provided herring is sparkling-fresh and properly filleted, you’re in for a treat, whether you eat it fried, chargrilled, baked or even raw.
Herring is one of the very best food sources of vitamin D. Our bodies make this vitamin in sunlight, but in our climate, it’s easy not to get enough. There seems to be more to vitamin D than strong teeth and bones. It’s now thought that vitamin D deficiency might be a factor in many diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
Herring is loaded with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These fatty acids help prevent heart disease and keep the brain functioning properly. They also seem to be effective in reducing inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and arthritis.