Polish Herrings in Oil (Sledz w Oleju) Recipe

Polish Herrings in Oil (Sledz w Oleju) in a white plate

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 70 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Marinate and Soak: 49 hrs
Total: 50 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 1 quart
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
612 Calories
41g Fat
18g Carbs
46g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 612
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 41g 52%
Saturated Fat 8g 38%
Cholesterol 147mg 49%
Sodium 224mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 46g
Vitamin C 76mg 378%
Calcium 185mg 14%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 1081mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Polish herrings in oil, sledz w oleju (pronounced SHLEDGE vef oh-LAY-yoo), is from chef Marek (Mark) Widomski, founder, and director of the Culinary Institute in Cracow, Poland. Herring is one of Poland's favorite appetizers. Salt herring, required for this recipe, are generally available from the barrel at Polish, Jewish, and other international delis. Raw herring is heavily salted to prevent spoilage, so you will need to soak them to get rid of the saltiness.

Plan your time accordingly because the herring is placed in a jar along with the oil and seasonings and marinated for two to three days before it can be eaten. You can make it up ahead of time before an event or holiday as it keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks. Serve it with a topping of sliced onions and lemons and sprinkle on either chopped parsley or dill for a finishing touch.

Poles love herring in myriad forms—pickled, creamed, fried, whole, fillets—and in another appetizer recipe known as rollmops or rolmopsy in Polish. Herring is featured throughout the year in Poland but especially at holiday times like Christmas Eve, known as wigilia, New Year's Eve celebrations, and on Shrove Tuesday before Lent.

Serve it with other appetizers such as Polish prunes wrapped in bacon (śliwki w boczku) and Polish stuffed peppers (papryka nadziewana).

Ingredients

  • 8 salt herring fillets

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, or enough to cover the fish

  • 3 whole allspice

  • 3 whole peppercorns

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Onion, finely chopped or sliced, for serving

  • Lemon slices, for serving

  • Chopped parsley, or dill, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Polish Herrings in Oil (Sledz w Oleju) ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Soak herring in cold water for at least 1 hour. If very salty, repeat, changing the water each time.

    herring in a bowl with water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Drain thoroughly and slice herring into bite-sized pieces.

    Chopped herring on a cutting board with a knife

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Place in a jar large enough to accommodate the pieces and cover with oil, allspice, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Close the jar. Refrigerate for two to three days before eating. This will keep refrigerated up to two weeks.

    Herrings with oil, allspice, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a jar

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Serve with finely chopped onion or onion slices, lemon, and parsley or dill.

    Polish Herrings in Oil (Sledz w Oleju) served with finely sliced onions, lemon, and parsley in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Tips

To keep the dish from being very salty, make sure to soak the herring long enough to draw some of the salt out. Soak for an hour and if still salty, repeat, changing the water each time.

How to Store

These herrings will keep in a glass jar with tight lid in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Herring vs. Sardines

Herrings and sardines come from the Clupeidae family. They do get confused with each other sometimes and both will get called sardines. They look similar and have silver fins that have blue and black to them.