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3 ways with great British herring

3 ways with great British herring

Jamie and Jimmy are carrying on the fight against food waste in their new Friday Night Feast TV series, this time by embracing the incredible UK produce that usually gets binned, or just outright ignored.

This week, herring is on the menu. Known as “silver darlings”, these oily fish were once a staple part of the British diet – rich in omega-3, healthy, cheap and super-tasty, too – but they’ve since fallen out of fashion. Despite their abundance in British seas, we now consume less than 10% of these little fish, opting for other varieties, such as salmon, tuna, cod and haddock.

As Jamie points out: “Because cod and haddock normally feed on herring, as their numbers deplete, the numbers of herring are obviously rising. We really need to be eating further down the food chain! Also, because herring feed on plankton and so on, they’re the ones that are really full of those omega 3s, vitamin D and all that other good stuff.”

So, ditch the cod and embrace the humble herring. Here are three of our favourite ways:

Sliced into strips and tossed through pasta, herring will stretch much further in this thrifty Mediterranean–style supper. Teamed with garlic, parsley, bursts of cherry tomato and a hit of chilli, this is a great nod to warmer months.

Go for a Mexican vibe with this delicious crowd pleaser. Piled into tacos with chunky guacamole and fresh salsa, and marinated with fennel, paprika, chilli flakes and lime juice, this herring dish certainly packs a punch. Gather your friends and family around the table, lay out all your different bits and pieces and let everyone build their own DIY lunch.

Serve them up Scandi-style. As Jamie discovered on a recent trip to Sweden, the Swedes take herring incredibly seriously, working in November to pickle and preserve them when they’re at their best: “I’m so glad I became re-acquainted with the joys of herring during my visit. I discovered some really creative, mind-blowing flavours for pickling: everything from dill to red onion, cloves and even curried mayo!” Pickled herring is a great thing to have in the fridge, ready to be added to lovely winter salads or livened up with simple flavours. Here Jamie gives herring a makeover with soured cream, chives, red onion and lemon zest – super-simple and delicious, served as a starter or with new potatoes and salad for a main.

Baked Doughnuts Three Ways

Old-fashioned cake doughnuts were deep-fried in hot fat NEW-fashioned cake doughnuts are baked in a hot oven! Use a doughnut pan and this tasty recipe to create your choice of doughnuts.


  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter
  • 1/4 cup (50g) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (71g) brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups (319g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (227g) milk


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth.

Add the eggs, beating to combine.

Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.

Perfect your technique

Baked doughnuts, three ways

Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be fairly thick when you draw your spatula through the batter, it will leave a furrow.

Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4" shy of the rim.

Bake the doughnuts for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 to 7 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a rack.

For cinnamon doughnuts, shake warm doughnuts in a plastic bag with about 1/4 (50g) to 1/3 cup (68g) cinnamon-sugar. For sugar-coated doughnuts, shake doughnuts in a plastic bag with about 1/2 cup (57g) non-melting topping sugar (for best results), or confectioners' sugar.

For frosted doughnuts, see our three easy doughnut glazes. Sprinkle the glazed doughnuts with toasted coconut or chopped nuts, if desired.

Tips from our Bakers

Looking for a gluten-free version of this recipe? Find it here: Gluten-Free Baked Doughnuts.


  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 400ml malt vinegar
  • 200g sugar
  • 3 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • Sea salt
  • For the herring:
  • 8 double herring fillets
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 bunch fresh dill
  • 100g wheat flour
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter

Herring or Sardines?

I know that herring and sardines are both rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but I’ve never eaten either. What’s the difference between them, how should you buy them and which is best?

There’s not a big difference between sardines and herring. In fact, “sardine” means “small fish.” (The fish in question were named after Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, because they used to be plentiful in this region.) When they’re young and small, these fish are called sardines. When they get older and bigger, they’re called herring. For centuries, herring have been a dietary staple of northern Europeans – Scandinavians, Russians, Dutch, British and Germans.

Both herring and sardines are very good for us because they provide high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that also play an important role in normal brain development and function. Research indicates omega-3s down-regulate inflammation, and may help reduce the risk and symptoms of a variety of disorders influenced by inflammation, including heart attack, stroke, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. People with high cholesterol, diabetes, symptoms of PMS, coronary artery disease, breast cancer, memory loss, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, insulin resistance, and arthritis may also benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

Another plus: because they’re relatively small and near the bottom of the food chain, herring and sardines don’t accumulate the contaminants that are so common in large, predatory fish. Furthermore, these fish haven’t been endangered by overfishing as some other species of fish have, so you can eat them with a clear environmental conscience. In fact, since predatory species have been vastly overfished, we have twice as many sardines today as we had 100 years go.

Herring can grow to about 1.5 feet long. They are cold water fish plentiful in the northern Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Pacific herring have been reported to live up to 19 years and can inhabit fresh as well as salt water.

I’ve written about sardines in this space before and celebrated the increasing availability of fresh ones that are delicious when grilled. If you’re unfamiliar with sardines, try my recipe for sardine sandwich spread, an easy to prepare and delicious lunch.

Fresh herring is higher in omega-3s than herring sold any other way, but you seldom see it. (I’ve eaten it grilled in Japan and love it that way.) You’ll get the same health benefits by eating fresh sardines. However, you can get (and safely eat) herring raw (it’s used in sushi), smoked or pickled and flavored many different ways. Your choice depends upon your taste, but I urge you to try different varieties until you discover one that appeals to you. In addition to its health benefits, herring often comes as a meal ready to be served. One of my favorites is kippered (smoked) herring look for it in cans in any supermarket and eat it with lemon, mustard, and onion.

A Hundred Ways to Rig Herring

Q: First of all, great web site! I came across it by accident, and I’m very happy I did. Over the years, I’ve fished out on the sound with different people, and it seems to me each one has his own “special” way of rigging cut-plug herring. I’ve recently bought my own boat, and am ready to host my own excursions. Is there a textbook way to rig herring? What do you recommend, slip tie or solid tie hooks? Flasher or no flasher? Thanks – Derrek

A: You are right! There are hundreds of ways to rig herring. They probably all work. The most important thing to remember is to make sure that your herring doesn’t suffer from tail flop. Once you have rigged your herring, put it in the water, give it a pull and watch the action. If the tail is flopping, so that it resembles a prop going through the water, no self respecting salmon is going to touch it. You want your herring to turn in a tight spiral like a drill bit. One thing that will help you get that action is after inserting the hooks slide a toothpick alongside the backbone to hold that bend. If you have tail flop, straighten your herring slightly and re-insert the toothpick. By all means, use solid tie hooks. Slip tie hooks will loose you a lot of fish, as the top hook will slide down and cut off the tail hook. Flashers will catch more fish but are probably less fun to use. If you are trolling herring with a flasher, you should use a plastic herring head holder of one type or another. Fish your herring at least 55 inches behind a flasher. A herring fished by itself will still catch fish, but you lose the sound attraction of a flasher.

Q: When fishing what you call “area 4” inside of Elliot Bay (the mouth of the Duwamish), I wonder if you have any feelings about which tides are optimal to fish. You explain about changing from one side of the Duwamish Head to the other (something I did for years at Possession, before they closed it for Chinook). But what about right at the mouth of a river like the Duwamish? On the one hand, it seems that the high tide might be best because each incoming tide could bring in a rush of new kings. On the other hand, the fish might pile up at the mouth during the lower tides, waiting for the rush of new water to give them a “push” into the river, thereby creating catch opportunities at the low tide. What are your thoughts on the best tides for fishing the mouth of the Duwamish? Regards – Jeremy

A: The answer to your question is yes. You have the concept firmly in mind. I really don’t have a preference for the tides. I have found that for winter blackmouth the incoming tide is better. For summer Chinook, either tide seems to work. The fish will move on the outgoing tide to deeper water. Of course, the best time to fish is an hour before and an hour after tide changes.

This method works well with other fish. Substitute salmon or fresh trout for the char if you like.

Hot-smoked salmon, unlike cured, is fully cooked.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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