How to build a restaurant dish
Pickle... Roast. Brown.. Layer
We are going to talk about herring today.
Come on, this is a Nordic-leaning food blog, preserved fish was gonna happen eventually.
But if you’re on the fence about preserved fish or have had bad experiences in the past, I still think this recipe could bring you round.
And if it doesn’t there’s a few tips here that I think are worth your reading to the end.
It’s a dish of pickled herring called matjes herring. What I like about Nordic matjes herring, and why I recommend it even if you don’t consider herring your thing, is how delicate in flavour it is. Matjes herring here in Sweden and Finland is made from young and mild herring fish, and it is pickled in a sweet brine flavoured with cinnamon, cloves and sandalwood. It is still fishy, but not at all overwhelming. Used in this recipe, it is really well balanced and just the most delicious starter for a special dinner or celebration meal.
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That balance comes from serving it with warm potato salad, chopped egg, pickled vegetables, hazelnuts and brown butter. This very traditional Swedish-style serving is something we served I think a hundred times a night at Oaxen Slip, the restaurant I introduced you to here.
It is a simple dish but deeply layered. And I think it’s this layering that makes it so lovely. The great Anthony Bourdain wrote that salt and butter were the reason why restaurant food tastes so good. And there’s truth to this, of course. But it’s also true that even “simple” restaurant dishes are the result of many hands sharing work to create something special.
I hope going through this recipe layer by layer we illuminate how this approach makes such special food, and how it can be done at home without too much bother as well.
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