Smoked Herring Recipe

Herring on brown paper with lemon
Claudia Uribe/Digital Vision/Getty Images
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 pound herring (4 servings)

If you are lucky enough to get fresh herring, try this recipe for smoked herring. This is a Native American heirloom recipe, and it will take 2 weeks, so plan accordingly. Your patience and time will be rewarded with the final result. Other small, oily fish (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) may be substituted for the herring.

Do you know what herring are? "The New Food Lover's Companion" (Barron's Educational Series, 2013) says, herring are saltwater fish with more than 100 varieties that can be found in the cold waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Most herring are silvery and small (running around 1/4 to 1 pound in weight). Young herring are frequently labeled and sold as sardines.

Fresh herring are available during the spring on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This high-fat fish has a fine, soft-textured flesh that firms when cured by either pickling, salting, smoking or a combination of those techniques.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons onions, minced
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon bay leaves, crushed
  • 2 pounds fresh herring

How to Make It

  1. Make a paste of 1 pound coarse salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, 1 tablespoon crushed whole cloves, 2 tablespoons minced onions, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon crushed bay leaves.
  2. Clean and gut 2 pounds fresh herring. Coat herring with paste and cure for seven days in the refrigerator. Reapply mixture as needed so fish remains coated.
  3. After seven days, rinse and hang to dry thoroughly. Cold smoke over fire. For home smokers, smoke at 70 to 85 degrees F. for 7 days. Because the fish will shrink in the smoking process, your 2 pounds of fresh herring will reduce to 1 pound of succulent smoked herring.

    Recipe Source: "Native Indian Wild Game, Fish & Wild Foods Cookbook : Recipes from North American Native Cook, edited by David Hunt (Castle Books, 1992). Reprinted with permission.

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    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    Calories 742
    Total Fat 43 g
    Saturated Fat 15 g
    Unsaturated Fat 19 g
    Cholesterol 113 mg
    Sodium 45,305 mg
    Carbohydrates 68 g
    Dietary Fiber 1 g
    Protein 24 g
    (The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)