My husband is from Haugesund, Norway, a town famous for its herring which is abundant in its coastal waters. So when I was choosing recipes that would be representative of his region, herring was on the list from the start. This recipe, from Norwegian National Recipes by Arne Brimi and Ardis Kaspersen is called Stavanger Herring, named for a town not far from Haugesund. I've been to Stavanger twice, and experienced one of the most miserable ferry rides of my life to get there one year in January! It's a pretty quiet place, really, but charming. In Haugesund, however, herring is such a part of the cultural fabric that they host a herring festival every August, in which the town builds a huge table which is then loaded with different sorts of herring, free for the tasting (and I've heard, smuggling for later enjoyment). I've never been, but it's on my list, and I think, given my undying love for the stuff, a good reason to plan a trip back some August.
However, the salted herring that would be used in a herring salad such as this is not as easily accessible in New York City as I thought it would be. I figured with The Lobster Place at Chelsea Market I was sure to find some. When that failed, and neither the first market at Whole Foods nor the market at Grand Central came through, I started getting a little desperate. So rather than starting with salted herring (which, by the way, if you plan ahead, you can order from The Nordic House), I bought three jars of herring in wine and vinegar and decided to give them the same soaking treatment I would have used for the salt herring.
In either case, you should soak your herring in water over night, changing the water when you think of it. If you manage to find whole salted herrings, you'll also need to debone and deskin them. If you're not as well prepared and using jarred, you can skip straight to the dressing.
Stavanger Herring (Stavangersild)
From Arne Brimi and Ardis Kaspersen's Norwegian National Recipes
6 salted herrings, deboned, deskinned and filleted (or, failing that, 3 small jars of herring in either wine or vinegar), soaked overnight in fresh water
3 hard boiled egg yolks, cooled
1/2 teaspoon mustard
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil plus more for consistency
1 tablespoons vinegar, plus more for consistency
2 teaspoons sugar
fine chopped parsley for garnish
Place the herring on a serving dish. In a separate bowl, mash the egg yolks with a fork, then add the mustard and a few grindings of pepper. Stir in the oil and vinegar a little at a time until it reaches a smooth and shiny consistency. I ended up using about 3 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Mix in the sugar, then pour the dressing over the herring and toss together. Garnish with the parsley and serve with a flatbread (such as this one) and potato salad (like this one).