Soused Herring, The Last of Holland

A long time ago I watched a Polish foodie’s program where the host of the show travels around the world and tries the local cousine. I happened to watch it where the host was in Amsterdam having soused herring which is a traditional Dutch delicacy. All this came back to me as we were standing outside a booth-type fish shop in Amsterdam that I had seen on the said show. Wondering if it was in fact the same shop I asked the owner about it and he did confirm that some time ago a Polish guy taped a show in his fish stall. Cool. Unfortunately for us, he was about to close and was all out of fish inviting us for the following morning, the morning we were due to leave the city. Not cool.

Fast forward to 30kms west and after visiting a small city of Haarlem, where I had some official scooter business to conduct, we drove towards the beaches of the North Sea. The only booth along the coastline was one with plenty of soused herring for the both of us.

The soused herring is an especially mild salt herring, which is made from young immature herrings. The herrings are ripened for a couple of days in oak barrels in a salty solution, or brine. The pancreatic enzymes which support the ripening make this version of salt herring especially mild and soft. The person behing a counter full of fish asked how we wanted it served, cut or whole, but he also explained that cut is easier to consume. So we had it cut, and served in a traditional way with plenty of onion on the side. It was delicious. So much so, that we ordered more but this time we ate it the traditional way by holding the herring but its tail and eating it whole.

After our fishy feast we walked the beach a little collecting sea shells from the North Sea, and inhaled all the salty air we could before spending the next 6 hours driving back to our home away from home in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.


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