Herring is one of my favourite fish in the sea and it’s dead cheap, so it’s a real ‘value’ fish. And cooking it like this makes it stretch much further, making it even better value for money. Places like Sweden revere it but in British seas, about 97% gets taken elsewhere or turned into fertiliser or fish feed.
I reckon half the reason we’ve fallen out of love with herring is because we’ve become quite lazy and don’t like the thought of getting rid of all those bones. Well I’ve got a solution, simply trim down the fillet on either side of the bones to give you two sort of goujons, and chuck the bony bit away. Your fishmonger should be able to do it for you.
Because cod and haddock normally feed on herring, as their numbers deplete, the numbers of herring are obviously rising. So 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.
Add the linguine to a pan of boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions.
Meanwhile, put a large frying pan on a high heat and add a few good lugs of olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic, chilli, capers and parsley stalks. Cook for a couple of minutes until just starting to colour. Add the herring strips to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. They will start to break up but don’t worry. Add the tomatoes and squeeze in the juice of a lemon.
Use tongs to transfer the cooked linguine straight into the frying pan, bringing a little of the cooking water with it. Add the butter, if using, and toss everything together in the pan. Have a taste, season with salt and pepper, add most of the parsley leaves and a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Mix again – use tongs if you need to – then transfer to a large platter. Scatter over the remaining parsley leaves and whack it in the centre of the table so everyone can tuck straight in.
Serves 4 to 6
You can substitute herring for mackerel
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