A herring! A herring! My kingdom for a herring!

Herring with onion and lemon touch

Herring with onion and lemon touch

While living in Germany, I missed the Polish curd cheese (twaróg) foremost, although I could find some not too bad substitutes. Living in São Paulo makes things much worse.

“No cheese Gromit! Not a bit in the house.”

There are more various, unavailable bits here that are essential in Polish cuisine – the curd cheese (farmers, cottage cheese), sour cucumbers (dill pickles; cucumbers, gherkins in salt brine), horseradish, root parsley, celeriac (celery root), wild mushrooms, poppy seeds, good black tea, bread, actually many different things and guess what? Herrings!

I think many Polish and not only Polish people but those from the countries next to the North and Baltic Sea where the herring is somehow obviously “the king of the sea”, would like in São Paulo to shout paraphrasing Shakespeare: A herring! A herring! My kingdom for a herring!

Yes, sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find some of those delicacies but then usually their prices tend to infinity.

However… it can happen as well, that you get a present from your Danish friend that can perfectly understand your craving. You are then in seventh heaven having some jars of herrings to enjoy. THANK YOU JØRN. Unfortunately, our pure hedonism in that moment didn’t allow taking a photo of the full content.

Top quality, a bit too sweet for the Polish taste

Jars of Danish Herrings or rather their remnants

North and Baltic Sea countries’ recipes for herrings are somehow similar in using the basic ingredients as an addition to herrings: onion, apples, pickled cucumbers, dill, lemon, raisins, cranberries, herbs, etc.

Herring, besides cod, was the main sea fish delivered to other, not coastal regions in Poland. Salting was originally the best method of preservation and years or even ages of this practice made the salted herring commonly available in the Polish cuisine.

Typical and traditional Polish herring dish is Herring in Sour Cream (Śledź w śmietanie) served with boiled potatoes. It was and is a fast dish, served often as well for the Christmas Eve lunch or dinner (obiad). However, herrings in Poland are eaten in many different ways – salted, smoked, marinated in vinegar, in vegetable oil, in thousands of salads, etc. Usually they are served with bread for supper, during parties and festivals. Well, each opportunity is good to have it. The last day of carnival in some regions of Poland is called “Śledzik” (small herring), during which various herring dishes accompany vodka (wódka) at that party night. While studying, we had it always on the day at our lab. No vodka in that case, bread and black tea is perfect accompaniment as well.

Luxury, summer dinner in Sao Paulo

Herrings in Yogurt

Herrings in Yogurt or Sour Cream


Salted herrings (soaked in cold water for few hours or overnight, depending of the salt content) or herrings’ fillets in oil (drained)

1 Yogurt ca. 150-200ml  (feel free to use sour cream or mix it with yogurt for a better taste)
1 Onion
1 Apple
1 Sour cucumber
1 Boiled egg
2-3 tablespoons of dill
Salt, black pepper, icing sugar, lemon juice – to taste


  1. Soak the salted herrings, change water few times if they are very salty, washed and drain them. If you have marinated herrings (you can use them too) from the jar or a package, just drain them.
  2. Cut the onion, apple, sour cucumber and egg white into the small cubes.
  3. Add dill, salt and pepper to the mixture.
  4. Mix the yogurt or sour cream with a pinch of sugar (if the yogurt or herrings have already the sweet taste, just omit it) and lemon juice – 1-2 tablespoons depending of the yogurt taste you are using
  5. Mix cut ingredients with the yogurt.
  6. Arrange the herrings on the plate.
  7. Pour the yogurt mixture on the herrings.
  8. Top with the shredded egg yolk.