Stuffed Herrings

with Mustard Sauce

Mustard sauce makes a good accompaniment to the oily flesh of herrings and English mustard has the ‘bite’ needed to make a good contrast with the rich fish. If herrings are unavailable, you can use small mackerel or if only large fish of either type are unavailable, serve each person a half.

Herrings with roe - 4, each about 225g (8 oz), cleaned, heads and fins removed
Milk - 300 ml ( pint)
Fresh breadcrumbs - 25g (1 oz)
Onion - 1 small, finely chopped
Butter - 25g (1 oz)
Plain flour - 3 tbsp
English mustard - 1 tsp
White wine vinegar - 1 tsp


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4
  2. Put the roes in a small saucepan with the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the milk. Finely chop the roes.
  3. Open out the fish on a board, inner side down and press lightly down the middle to loosen the backbone. Gently ease the backbone away.
  4. Mix together the breadcrumbs and onion and add the chopped roes. Spread on the open herrings. Fold the herrings over to enclose the stuffing.
  5. Cover and bake for 20 minutes until tender.
  6. Meanwhile, put the butter, flour and the reserved milk in a saucepan. Heat, whisking continuously, until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. stir in the mustard and vinegar and serve with the herrings.
    Herrings in Oatmeal

    The oatmeal in this Scottish dish adds to the bulk and fibre as well as absorbing the rich oiliness of the herrings. Herrings are economical fare, in season all year round and at their best from June to September.

    Medium herrings - 4, cleaned, heads and tails removed.
    Medium oatmeal - 110g (4 oz)
    Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp
    Butter - 25g (1 oz)
    Lemon wedges - to serve


    1. Remove the backbones from the herrings. Fold the fish in half and coat with the oatmeal.
    2. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan. Fry the herrings for 5 minutes on each side. Drain well.
    3. Serve hot with the lemon wedges.

        Soused Herrings

      Britain has been a nation of herring eaters, along with Scandinavia and the Netherlands, since earliest times.  Sad to say, we have fished out many of the old herring waters and it is now becoming a rare and expensive fish.  However, it is still a good buy and an excellent food.  The point of soused herrings is first and foremost that they make a good summer lunch but also that once soused they can be kept for several days if necessary.  This recipe is also suitable for mackerel.

      Serves 6

      Fresh herrings - 6, preferably with soft roes, weighing 175-225g (6-8 oz)
      Cider vinegar - 300 ml ( pint)
      Dry cider - 300 ml ( pint)
      Bayleaves - 4
      Thyme - 4
      Black peppercorns - 12
      Cloves - 4
      Mace blades - 2


      1. Scrape the scales off the herrings.  Cut off their tails and heads, clean them thoroughly reserving the soft roes, then wash them under the tap.
      2. Pat them dry, put back the roes and lay them in a large pie dish, heads to tails.
      3. Cover with vinegar and cider.  Strew some salt, the herbs and the spices on top, cover with a sheet of oiled foil (this will prevent the smell from spreading) and stand the dish in a tin of boiling water.
      4. Bake at 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4 for 30 minutes then allow to cool.
      5. Serve cold garnished with watercress and with a green salad with hard-boiled eggs chopped into it.

      Stuffed Herrings

      Mackerel can be substituted if herrings are not available.

      Butter - 65g (2 oz)
      Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
      Fresh breadcrumbs - 50g (2 oz)
      Shelled walnut pieces - 50g (2 oz), roughly chopped
      English mustard - 1 tbsp
      Lemon - 1, zest and juice
      Fresh mixed herbs such as chives, parsley, rosemary, thyme - 3 tbsp, chopped
      Herrings - 4 medium, each weighing about 275g (10 oz), cleaned, boned, heads and tails removed


      1. Melt 15g ( oz) of the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally.
      2. Meanwhile, mix together the breadcrumbs, walnuts, mustard, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mixed herbs. Add the onion and mix together well.
      3. Open the herring fillets and lay skin side down. Press the stuffing mixture evenly over each fillet. Fold the herring fillets back in half and slash the skin several times.
      4. Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan, add the fish and fry for about 10 minutes, turning them once, until they are tender and browned on each side.

          Grilled Herrings with Mustard

        When the Colmans began milling mustard in Norwich, the herring industry was at its peak and the resulting combination of mustard and fresh herring became a popular one.

        Fresh herrings - 4, cleaned and scaled
        English mustard powder - 1 tsp
        Vinegar - 1 tsp
        Sugar - 1 tsp


        1. Cut a few slashes into the sides of each cleaned herring.
        2. Mix the mustard powder, vinegar and sugar.  Spread over the herrings.
        3. Place on a grill pan and grill for 5 minutes each side.  Serve at once.