Pickled herring is a type of preserved fish popular in Scandinavian, Jewish and Eastern European cuisine. People make this dish by soaking the fish for at least a day in vinegar along with sugar, onions and other flavors. The fish can be eaten on its own or mixed into other dishes.
Herring fish are common across the world. They live in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and are divided into two main species, Atlantic herring and Pacific herring, which are then divided into over 200 subspecies. All herring species have the same general appearance. They are silver fish with one fin on the back. Herring are usually small in size, though some subspecies can grow up to a meter (3.28 feet) long.
The fish travel in large schools and are caught yearly in the spring time when they come along the shores of America and Europe. In some cases, the size of the school may be so large that the fish run out of air to breath in the water and die. Since herring travel in large schools and eat relatively low on the food chain, they are considered to be a ecologically sound fish to eat.
After the fish are caught, they can either be eaten fresh or pickled. Herring were traditionally pickled to preserve them through the long, cold winters common in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. The nutritional value of pickled herring provides enough of necessary vitamins to keep a person healthy when fresh food is not available.
Pickled herring is high in several vitamins, including Vitamin A, B12, and B3. It's also a good source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. The pickling liquid can often add a high amount of sodium, so people who need to keep an eye on sodium intake may want to be wary of this dish.
People eat pickled herring on its own, spread it on toast, or combine it with other ingredients into a casserole or salad. A common dish featuring pickled herring in Sweden is called sillgratin, a casserole made of herring and potatoes. In Germany and Poland, rollmops are a popular way to eat the fish. To make a rollmop, a person wraps a pickled herring fillet around onions, carrots and pickles and secures it with a wood skewer or toothpick. Rollmops are eaten as an appetizer, either on their own or with slices of bread.