I have probably enjoyed smoked herring fillets for the past forty years but today was the first time I made them myself from fresh fish. As a kid, my father introduced us
to King Oscar "kipper snacks" – smoked herring fillets in a can. This was the only canned fish (other than tuna) that we ate. Years later, I found that my two children also liked them and I stocked in the kitchen them for healthy snacks. I’ve tried plenty of other types of sardines and canned fish, but none that I enjoy as much as kipper fillets.
Atlantic herring are reportedly more healthy than the Baltic herring typically used in canning operations with 1/10 the amount of PCBs. Herring are very high in healthy fatty acids and this species gets a "thumbs up" from environmentalists because stocks are plentiful and commercial harvesting techniques are environmentally friendly.
Last week my friend Tom, a waterman, said he has been catching some herring in his commercial nets as by-catch when he targets bunker. I asked him to put some aside and today he dropped off three fish about 10" long. I gutted them and put them on a low temperature charcoal grill for about an hour while I worked in the garden and enjoyed the smell coming from the grill. The fish were easily filleted after cooling. I clean off the skin and dark meat and filtered out the small needle bones. The fillets were drizzed with olive oil and served with salad and roasted red potatoes.
This meal was another reminder of life’s simple pleasures. The fish were amazing. I hope Tom brings more next weekend; I will be thrilled to fire up the charcoal again.