herrings2‘A plague o’ these pickled herrings’ (Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 5)

The Bismarck Herring owes its name to the business sense of Johann Wiechmann, owner of a fish cannery in Stralsund, who as an admirer of Otto von Bismarck sent him a barrel of pickled herring for his birthday. Encouraged by Bismarck’s letter of thanks Weichmann sent another barrel of pickled herring to Bismarck to mark German unification in 1871, together with a letter asking for permission to sell his product under the name of ‘Bismarck Herring’ in the future, to which the Iron Chancellor agreed.


Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
12 raw herring fillets (ask your fishmonger to prepare them)
4 tablespoons of salt
2 cups of dry white wine
2 cups of water
1 cup of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large onions
2 carrots
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons peppercorns
2 tablespoons allspice

Clean the herring under cold running water and pat dry. Rub with salt, cover with foil, and leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Combine the white wine, water, vinegar, and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to chill completely. Slice the onions into thin rings and peel and slice the carrots.

Rinse the herrings and dry. Then layer the fish with the sliced onions and carrots, peppercorns, bay leaves, and allspice in a jar or crockpot. Fill the jar with the chilled brine, ensuring that everything is completely covered. Seal the jar and allow to stand in a cool place for at least 2 days.

When ready to eat remove the pickled herring from the jar, wipe dry, and serve with sweet pickles, fresh onion slices, and boiled potatoes.


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