“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.”
I nearly know this… I had to look up this stuff on wikipedia / the Google scenario to work out how to make it palatable and eat it. The computer-net also let me know:
1. (of food, especially fish) preserved in pickle or a marinade."soused herring"synonyms: drench, soak, steep, douse, saturate, plunge, immerse, dip,submerge, sink
Soused also means drunk in English. You may find yourself having to have a few stiff drinks for this food, but you will see why it’s worth the effort… Now read on!
When I told one of my Hebrew pals I was having matjes, she said:
“Are you getting your Jew on, or what?”
I replied in the negative, referring instead to Europe, particularly the Northern climes, and the timing of Eurovision being on... making it an apropos novelty food. Indeed, since I am part Viking, this may be an ancestral food my people ate.
Matjes are brought to you here en Australie by ‘Holland House’ (it comes flat packed in plastic trays in a sealed bag) – the same company that brings you roll mops and bismark herring (herring cured in brine, an old favourite of mine from share house days in Canberra, when I refused to let a Norwegian co-tenant gobble the food kitty and stonewall me by buying pickled fish).
I thought I’d try the difference, and get all Eurofied for Eurovision. Along with buying cheap and terrible schnapps.
The fish in question are supposed to be “drowned” in some pickling solution that makes the herring quite soft. It’s an unusual food, on the extreme end of the scale, and reminds me somewhat of anchovies in oil; salty and glutinous.
I couldn’t stomach it outright and plain. I mean, the stuff is cold, smelly, oily and wobbles, and at the time there was a bearded lady from Vienna (home of Sigmund Freud and fathers who lock their children in the basement*) winning the song competition I was watching.
As an old skinflint, however, I refused to let good food go to waste, and did some internet research.
Matjes Serving SuggestionsIt transpires that Northern Europeans enjoy this herring with:
- potato salad
- sour cream,
- black bread with raw onion (white/salad onion) on top
- pickled onions, cornichons, etc.
- soda water
- some grainy toast
- raw onion (red)
- salad leaves
But afterwards, I kept involuntarily saying “yum!”. Like my body was talking independently of my brain (not an altogether unusual occurrence). It was the aftertaste in my mouth; a kind of pleasant indigestion.
And then I began to wonder if I was just talking myself into it.
To confirm any doubts, there were two thirds of a fillet left, which I had on toast with some pickled onions for breakfast while I conjectured thusly. Not bad.
I wonder if I could grow to become mates with matjes? Maybe… anything is possible. Just watch out you don’t wind up freaking out all and sundry with your pongy weird fish and pickles eating. Like Dad with his terrible cod liver oil in the 70s. Blech!
I rate matjes a handy five tentacles out of eight for taste, possibly building with an acquired palate through regular eating, and an eight out of eight for joint and pain relief and/or reducing heart attack mortality.