Dress up the Naked Herring
Solomon Gundy – where did this name come from? First I thought it was King Solomon who gave title to this culinary dish. I did discover that salmagundi is a mixed salad with any kind of marinated, cured or smoked fish or meat. My detective work unearthed the following little nursery rhyme from 1875 about a certain Mr. Solomon Grundy! Maybe he gave name to our marinated herring we eat today?
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
This is the end of
Solomon Grundy. Let me tell you something about marinated herrings. Have you ever seen a naked herring? Most of the time you will – when you go searching for your Solomon Gundy in the stores. What a shame! In Scandinavia we can’t serve breakfast, lunch or dinner without them. I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents sent us a full wooden crate of the finest salted herrings each November. They lasted until Easter.
Nothing is more sad to look at than those grey pieces of Solomon Gundy we can buy here. I’ve noticed how pleased my buffet guests are when they find out how tasty and appealing to the eye herring are when they are dressed up. I have a good friend in Toronto who vacations every summer in Margaree. We’re always treated to a wonderful Lebanese spread when we visit. In return, I give her several jars of the more than two dozen varieties of marinated herring that can be purchased throughout Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Holland.
Herring is a nutritious fish. I like to buy a large portion that can be stored in the fridge for months. The basic dressing can be made of vinegar, sherry, port wine, yogurt, mustard, tomato sauce, oil or maple syrup. You can add any type of onions, bell peppers, capers, olives and shredded vegetables to your liking. Herring deserve to be dressed up and the taste and flavours make the difference. They look great on the buffet table and are very easy to prepare. Just take your basic Solomon Gundy herring and let them sit overnight in your favourite dressing in the fridge. Use a mix of dried spices or fresh herbs. Serve with rye bread and fresh herbs on top.
Another way to serve marinated herring is as an entre. Simply place two whole filets on the serving plate and serve them with mashed potatoes and a mix of turnip & carrots. Dice some red onion and fresh parsley and sprinkle over the herring and serve with a spoonful of sour cream.
I guess you’ve had enough of herring by now. Let’s move on to smoked salmon.
This week I’ve created a pasta dish with smoked salmon. I did this because a lot of people ask me this question when I’m doing food demos: #Is the smoked salmon raw – like sushi?# The salmon filet has been cured (marinated) in a salty brine and rum for twenty-four hours, then dried and smoked. During this process the salmon meat has undergone a treatment, so it is not the raw original product. You can cook your smoked salmon, if you prefer to eat it this way, and the following recipe tells you how. Also try to throw some smoked salmon in with your Sunday scrambled eggs.
8 slices of smoked salmon, cut in strips.
cut green, yellow and red bell peppers.
1 parsnip, 1 carrot, 1 head of broccoli, 1 leek, 1 red onion, 8 mushrooms, 1 zucchini, 2 cloves of garlic, fresh ginger root
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. sage
fresh parsley for decoration
4 tbs. crumbled goat feta cheese
fresh or dried pasta ( your choice )
salt & pepper
Prepare all vegetables for stir frying. Rinse and cut any way you want them, not too thin though!
If you use dried pasta it will take you 15 minutes to cook and you can prepare your vegetables in the meantime. If you are using fresh pasta, prepare your vegetables first, since fresh pasta is cooked in 3-5 minutes. In a large pot fill water and ad 1tbs. salt and 1tsp. olive oil. Let it come to a boil and cook your pasta. In a deep stir-fry pan add 2 tbs. olive oil, chopped garlic, sage and fine cut fresh ginger root. Add all your vegetables and toss and stir about 5-10 minutes over high heat. Add your salmon and turn off the heat. Toss and turn. Drain water from pasta. Serve a bed of pasta on the plate and then your vegetables on the top. Sprinkle crumbles of goat feta cheese on top. Decorate with fresh parsley. This is a great way to introduce smoked salmon in a healthy pasta dish.
SOLOMON GUNDY (Basic recipe)
6 whole salt herring
2 large onions sliced
2 cups vinegar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
half a cup of sugar
Remove tails and heads from salt herring. Soak in cold water for 12 hours. Change
water once or twice. Clean thoroughly, skin and fillet – taking care to remove all bones. Cut into 2 inch pieces, drain and press excess water from herring. Pack in sterile glass jars layering onion between. In saucepan, combine vinegar, pickling spice, and sugar; slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5 min. until spice has flavoured vinegar. Cool and pour liquid to cover herring. Refrigerate 4 – 5 days before serving.