Perhaps you’ve seen them – the videos of people retching and yowling like tortured puppies over a tin of Swedish fermented herring like it’s the worst thing that ever happened to them. And yeah, I laughed the first time I saw them too. But come on. Sure, it smells a bit funny, but so does a chip shop. And you don’t swallow a whole fish with bones and all and assess a goddamn delicacy that way. I mean, what if I chomped down a platter of only prosciutto and dissed the entirety of Italian cuisine because I found it too salty?
So how are you supposed to eat fermented herring? Well what do you know, that’s exactly what I’m here to tell you. To begin with, you need accessory foods. Opinions differ – as they always do with traditions – but I like my herring with Swedish thin bread, potatoes, red onion, sour cream, and tomatoes.
You may also want to indulge in some accessory drinks. Some people swear by milk, and others by beer. And why not a home made schnapps made with seeds of fennel, caraway, and coriander soaked in vodka?
You can eat your herring with the requisite accessory foods as a regular meal, with everything laid on a plate, but I find it more festive to make a tunnbrödklämma – a piece of thin bread with a mound of toppings that make it almost impossible to eat. So it’s a challenge as well!
Eaten this way, the herring provides a salty, tangy accent to a mouthful of quite bland, sweet foods – absolutely delicious!
(Good enough to kiss! :D)