Whilst it is often great fun cooking complex meals, there are times when very simple food just can’t be beaten. I think this is one of those recipes. Sautéed herring fillets! We were doing some non food shopping in our local supermarket and the fish counter was closing. They had 2 fresh herring which they were pricing up at half price so that was just £1 per fish. The fish were actually very fresh, with bright eyes and red gills always a good sign! Simply too good to miss.
Herring used to be a staple food of the North East coast of England, but overfishing led to their decline . For a while there was a moratorium on fishing for them in the 1970s. Through good stewardship they are at times becoming plentiful again as a sustainable resource. They are also the basic ingredient of that world class product, the ‘Craster Kipper’, but that is a story for another day!
Herring is a very easy fish to prepare. After gutting and washing, the head, fins and the tail are cut off, this can be done with a pair of kitchen scissors. The belly of the fish is placed onto the work surface, opening up the body cavity so that it supports the fish. Then simply press down hard on the back of the fish where the dorsal fin was and flatten out. Then turn the flattened fish over, grab hold of the loosened back bone and pull it out gently. With it comes the majority of the fish bones. Trim round the 2 fillets and divide them with a single cut down the centre of the back forming 2 individual trimmed fillets. Now that is the preparation completed and all that is left it to sauté the individual fillets. There are hundreds of things one could add to the fillets at this stage, but I would suggest that at least once you try them simply cooked in oil and butter as we have here. Herring also works really well on the EGG as it keeps all those fish cooking smells, that are not universally loved, out of the house!
Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking and heat a handleless, heavy bottomed pan. Add some olive or rapeseed oil and when this is hot drop in a knob of butter. This will immediately foam if the pan is hot enough. Let the foam die down, and then add the herring fillets, skin side down, one at a time. As the skin hits the hot pan there is a natural tendency for the fillets to curl. just press them down with your fingers or a wooden spoon until they relax to prevent this. Leave them untouched in the pan until the skin is a nutty brown (3-4 mins) and then flip them over for a further minute or so until the flesh is coloured.
Remove from the pan and serve 2 filets per person on a bed of rocket leaves. Pour over a little of the cooking juices and serve with a squeeze of lemon. I think this makes a great supper dish or a light lunch. Best of all though I think it makes a good alternative to those wonderful Craster Kippers for breakfast, especially when that glorious taste of kippers is not loved by all the members of the household!!
This dish worked out at about £1.00 a serving, and even at full price it would have only been £2.00.
…………………………….. give them a go!!
Herring fillets sautéed in butter
Fresh herring fillets sautéed in butter
- 4 herring fillets
- Olive or Rapeseed oil
- Lemon Juice
- Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking and heat a handleless, heavy bottomed pan.
- Step 2 Add olive or rapeseed oil to the pan and when this is hot add a knob of butter.
- Step 3 Once the butter has stopped foaming add the herring fillets, skin side down, one at a time. Press each fillet to the pan until the fish relaxes and then leave untouched until the skin is a nutty brown (3-4 mins).
- Step 4 Flip the fillets over to colour the other side for a further minute or so.
- Step 5 Remove from the pan and serve 2 filets per person on a bed of rocket leaves. Pour over a little of the cooking juices and serve with a squeeze of lemon.