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As in how to cure them in salt and fat? Or how to use them?
Yes, how to cure it. I've got the potatoes and chilled vodka ready!
Okay. I thought I had a really good book on curing seafood, but I must have given I can't seem to locate it. So, here's a little info anyway. Schmaltz herring tend to be big and fat, so they're usually skinned, gutted, and cut into pieces.
When I've pickled herring, I've soaked them in salt water, "salty enough to float a potato," for a couple of hours and then finished them in vinegar, oil, and spices for a few days. For this kind of a short cure, you should plan on eating the fish up relatively quickly.
A longer method involves packing them in salt and vinegar for several days. Then rinse the fish in cold, usually flowing water, for a number of hours and proceed--either packing them in salt for future use or pickling them in vinegar and sugar.
Sorry to be so vague. I can find more details if you need them.
Is schmaltz herring different from pickled herring? I'm a huge fan of pickled herring, and recently tried a lacto-fermented recipe for it that I wasn't happy with. Anyway, I don't have an answer, but I'd love to hear what others have to say.
linzarella, the terminology varies--but schmaltz herring is the big, fat version of the Atlantic herring. It's a good candidate for pickling. But all pickled herrings are not schmaltz.
Thanks for the answers. I vaguely remember my grandma salting it with kosher salt, then weighting it down for a while, then pickling it with vinegar, brown sugar, etc. But I don't know the amounts, or the time frames for the various steps, or the rest of the ingredients.
I made a lot of pickled herring in grad school. We used alewives, which are not the perfect pickling fish, and they turned out great anyway. This winter, for the first time, I found fresh Pacific herring for sale. They are usually taken just for their roe, which is shipped to Japan for processing. I pan-fried the fish and the roe (separately), and they were surprisingly great! A lot quicker than curing!
But I did find a lot of info in A.J. McClane's The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery. It's probably what I used in grad school, as I've had it for a long, long time. Here are some of the details for you:
Clean the fish well (be sure to get the kidneys). Pack them loosely in a stone crock and cover with a brine (3/8 salt to 1 quart water--I don't know where I got that potato advice) and vinegar--about 1/2 as much vinegar as you used water. Keep them cool for 48 hours. I also remember weighting them down, like your grandmother. Remove and soak for 8 hours in fresh, cold water.
Then proceed with a recipe. Here's a snapshot of one of his:
Cook 4 cups vinegar, 1/2 pounds sliced onions, and 1 ounce sugar slowly in a pot until the onions are soft. Add mustard seeds, black peppercorns, stick of cinnamon, piece of ginger, bay leaf, cloves, and dill. Simmer (don't boil) for 45 minutes. Strain the spices, cool the sauce, and add the fish.
Another of his recipes includes some sugar like your grandmother, one ounce of sugar to 4 cups of vinegar and 2 cups of water, plus some allspice, bay, mustard seeds, black and white peppercorns, cloves, red onions, and carrots.
From experience, I can tell you that it's very important to cool the sauce throroughly, or you'll cook the fish and the texture won't be what you want. Pour it over the fish, and let it sit for 2 or 3 days before using.
Best of luck!
Wow -- thank you so much! I'll let you know how it turns out.
Great! A couple notes on my quick typing: It's 3/8 CUPS salt to that quart of water, in case you didn't guess. I can't wait to hear how they turn out. And I see that actually both my versions included a little sugar, which makes sense to me.
No worries -- I figured that's what it was. Thanks again.
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Well played. You deserve a cookie.
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