Get to know your herring
October 31, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
Herring has been in the Jewish food vernacular for centuries. It’s served at many celebratory events throughout a Jewish person’s life. You’re born –there is herring at your bris. You have your Bar Mitzvah –herring is served at the Kiddush luncheon. You get married and herring sneaks its way into that milestone one way or another. For a food item that has situated itself so prominently in the Jewish culture, there should be a guide. So here is your ‘who’s who of herring’:
Type: Matzes, or Matjesrand: Kosher Gourmet
Origin: Matjes, meaning ‘maiden’ in German, is made from female herrings that have not yet spawned, resulting in a fattier, plumper fish.
Description: With a mellow, smooth taste, creamy texture and a very subtle fishy flavour, Matjes herring is a classy choice.
Overall Feeling: This is the sirloin of herrings.
Type: Wine Marinade
Brand: FEATURE FOODS
Origin: This is the most commonly served herring and it is often called Bismarck herring, after the first chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck.
Description: This herring has a tart, vinegary flavour and a flaky texture. If you’re new to herring, try this one first.
Overall Feeling: Indeed the layperson’s herring.
Type: Creamed Herring
Brand: GOLDEN Herring
Origin: Herring is traditionally served with sour cream in Scandinavian countries, so why not combine the two for a one-stop shop?
Description: The herring itself tastes a lot like wine marinated herring. The only difference is it’s coated with a healthy amount of a sour cream-esque sauce. In my humble opinion, the two should never have crossed paths.
Overall Feeling: The Waldorf salad of herrings. Something is amiss.
Type: Schmaltz Herring
Origin: Schmaltz is Yiddish for fat. This type of herring is traditionally marinated in animal fat, however this variety is marinated in an oily brine.
Description: This pungent variety of herring has an overall smoky yet sweet flavour. The fish has a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Overall Feeling: This type ain’t for the faint of heart. Hold onto your yarmulke!