Herring Escabeche Salad
It’s nearly the end of summer. We have endured heavy downpours over the past week and my heart goes out to the farmers who are struggling to harvest their crops. This herring escabeche is a bit of sunshine on a plate and reminds me of hot sunny days and holidays to France.
It’s been three weeks since we have opened the doors to the British Larder Suffolk. It’s been hard work and I relied heavily on preparing dishes like this herring escabeche to help me through very busy days. The beauty is that you can make the salad early in the morning or even the day before, and when it comes to serving the dish it’s perfectly pickled. I like the simplicity and pureness of this recipe, it’s not at all complicated. I serve this herring escabeche salad with pickled green beans and plenty of buttered brown bread, and the pickled vegetables are just as delicious.
Herring is a very bony fish and it’s not easy to remove all the bones, however the richness of the oily flesh is perfect for pickling. Alternatively, you can use sardines or mackerel - I buy the really small sardines and butterfly them, but again you end up with a bone problem.
The pickled green beans is a recipe from my mother. When she visited last summer she gave me this recipe from my grandmother’s recipe book and I have been making it regularly throughout the summer. It not only adds the perfect crunch to this dish but also makes a fantastic partnership with a good bit of cheddar on malted brown bread.
- 6 herring fillets, pin bones removed
- ½ bulb of fennel, finely sliced
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 carrot, finely sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, lightly crushed
- 2 star anise
- Pinch of saffron
- 3tbs olive oil
- 1tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
- Malden sea salt
- 1tsp caster sugar
- 1 sprig of summer savoury
- 1 bay leaf
- 75ml cider vinegar
- 200ml white wine
Prepare the fish; remove the pin bones, wash and pat dry. Cut the herrings to the desired size and lightly score the skin. Place the herrings in a wide, shallow container and glaze the fish with half the oil, add the bay leaf and summer savoury, set aside.
Heat a medium saucepan and toast the coriander seeds and star anise in the warm dry pan, remove from the heat.
Return the pan to the heat with the remaining oil and sweat the onions, fennel, garlic, carrot and toasted spices until it turns transparent with no colour, lightly season and add the sugar and saffron.
Add the white wine and vinegar, bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
Season the herrings with the Malden sea salt and ladle the pickling liquid over. Allow the herrings to cool completely. It’s best to leave them in the fridge for 12 hours for the flavour to develop.
Pickled Green Beans
- 300g green beans, sliced
- 115ml malt vinegar
- 2tsp curry powder
- 1tsp turmeric
- 115g light brown sugar
- 115g onions, diced
- 1tsp salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1tbs corn flour
- 1tsp Coleman’s English mustard powder
- 10g golden syrup
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
Top and tail the beans and slice at an angle.
Bring the salted water to the boil in a large saucepan and blanch the beans for 1 minute, refresh in icy cold water.
In a separate medium saucepan mix the malt vinegar and cornflour till smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the refreshed blanched beans; bring the mixture back to the boil for 1 minute.
Transfer the pickled beans to a sterilised clean container, cool and refrigerate. Refrigerated they will keep for up to 2 months, if unopened.
Serve the herring escabeche and pickled green beans on a plate, garnish the plate with some of the pickled vegetables and juices, and add a few sprigs of watercress.