Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fried fish in marinade (Baltic herring recipe)

Marineeritud praetud räimed / Fried Baltic herrings in marinade

Time for another Estonian recipe here on Nami-Nami. My mum celebrated her birthday last weekend, and this - "marineeritud praetud räimed" aka "praetud räimed marinaadis" - was one of the dishes I brought along to her party. You see, both my grandmothers - one 91, the other 92 years old - are staying with my parents these days. The other day my mum was complaining that her mum and her mother-in-law (that's my two grandmothers then) had been asking for fried Baltic herring for a while now and my mum hasn't had a chance to go to the market in search of fresh fish. As we have an excellent fishmonger - Pepe Kala - at our weekly farmer's market in Viimsi, I decided to make my mum's life easier and cooked a batch to take along.

 Baltic herring fillets / Räimefileed

In Estonia this dish is made with Baltic Herrings (Clupea harengus membras, above), a subspecies of the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus). Baltic herring is smaller and less fatty than the Atlantic herring, and they're also much smaller - up to 18 cm long compared to the Atlantic herring's 40-45 cm. Baltic herring - räim - is considered the "national fish" of Estonia. It's known as silakka in Finnish, strömming in Swedish, hareng de la Baltique in French. True (Nordic) fish aficionados claim the taste of Baltic herring to be superior to the taste of much more well-known sardines. :)

 If you cannot get hold of the Baltic herring, you could try sardines instead - apparently the marinade works well with fried sardines, too.

Fried Baltic Herring in Marinade
(Praetud räimed marinaadis)
Serves 8

 Marineeritud praetud räimed / Fried Baltic herrings in marinade
600 g Baltic herring fillets (or about 1 kg fresh fish)

2 large eggs
4 Tbsp milk

200 ml all-purpose flour or rye flour

oil for frying

1 l water (4 cups)
2 carrots
2 onions
10 black peppercorns
5 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp 30% vinegar
1.5 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp caster sugar

Fry the fish. Whisk the eggs with milk, dip fish fillets into the mixture, flesh side down. Press both sides of the fish into the flour, shaking off any extra flour.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a heavy frying pan until hot. Place the breaded fish fillets, flesh sides down, onto the pan and fry for a 2-3 minutes, until dark golden brown. Flip gently over and fry the skin side until golden brown. Transfer the cooked fish fillets into a large bowl.

Make the marinade. Peel and thinly slice the carrots and onion (I used my trusty Benriner mandoline slicer). Place the vegetables, peppercorns and allspice berries, bay leaves, salt and sugar into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the water and bring into a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are al dente or still have some bite to them. Taste for seasoning - add more salt or sugar, if necessary. The marinade should be quite salty and sugary to have enough potency to flavour the fried fish fillets.

Now add the vinegar* and remove the pan from the heat. Again - you want the marinade to be vinegary to flavour the fish, but not so much that the resulting dish would be too vinegary. Let the marinade cool for a 10-15 minutes, then slowly pour the whole thing (including the carrots, onions and the seasoning) over the fried fish.

Cool completely, then cover and transfer into the fridge for at least 8-10 hours or overnight.

 Marineeritud praetud räimed / Fried Baltic herrings in marinade

Enjoy on a slice of good dark rye bread or alongside boiled potatoes.

These keep in a fridge for a week or so.

* A note on vinegar - we use the 30% proof vinegar to make this dish in Estonia. Use whatever neutral-tasting vinegar you have, adjusting the amount and aiming for the slightly vinegary marinade.


Toomas said...

I remember mum making this but in Australia we have no Baltic herring so I don't know what she used. Looked just like the picture. thanks for jogging the memory

Julie said...

I make this for my mom at Easter with smelt here in the US. She says it just like what she had as a child!

Sevimin Aşkanası said...

It's great

Helga said...

Oh yes, my grandmother used to make this but in Australia we use deep sea travelly. I have her recipe and will be making some soon.
Interestingly I saw an Australian fishing program from the 90's where the hosts travelled to Italy and they were shown how to make a very similar dish. I am not sure what type of fish was used.

Ann Marie said...

Pille, the photo of the cleaned fish, look like the smelts mom & dad would scoop up by the bushel full in front of their cottage on Lake Simcoe ON. I ate one smoked smelt once, otherwise don't know what they taste like either. How are baltic herring & canadian lake simcoe smelts compare, anyone?

Pia said...

you can use tilapia....

Abra said...

Oh, I think that's the dish we called inlagde sill when I was an au pair in Sweden, circa 1970. Yum.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks!

pia said...

Many thanks for this great recipe. We managed to get it but it felt superb: -)
I have a web log through food meals average Joe if you happen to engaged. I have a blog with cake recipes myself if you are interested. You can find it at http://recipes-for-food.com/

Amanda said...

Some time you want to have a different kind of recipe for the meal. so i think you are doing a very good thing in the field of cooking and baking. Fishing in Dubai

Jeff @ Cheeseburger said...

That's sweet that your cooking for your grannies. I bet they liked it a lot because this looks very delicious.

Essays Pro said...

Wow! its sounds yummy!

Katrina @ The Gastronomical Me said...

brill, another herring recipe! I didn't realise actually that you could fry the fish first and then marinate. am defo trying.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this recipe.

In Lithuania you frequently see a similar dish, but it is generally made with pike from the Baltic Sea (an ecological curiosity -- the Baltic Sea being so low in salinity freshwater fish can live in it), and the carrots are grated rather than cut into roundels.

Simon Kaminskas, Canberra, Australia

I found this recipe while trying to find a recipe for the Lithuanian version of the dish. However, if I use freshwater fish like redfin perch, and grate the carrots, I think your recipe will deliver what I'm after.

NOTE: I think you may have made a typing mistake with your vinegar strength? I don't think your vinegar could be 30% acetic acid -- I think you might have meant to type 3.0%. My understanding is most food vinegars are around 4% acetic acid.

Pille said...

Simon, nope, no typo here - there's a common vinegar here in Estonia that's 30%. You either drizzle few drops on your jellied meat (sült) or then dilute it for other uses!

That's the one we use for canning and preserving as well - and as it's so strong, then we just use a Tbsp or two per a litre of water. You'd need much more of that mild food vinegar or wine vinegar.

Anonymous said...

Oh, well, there's a surprise!

I have read that food vinegars are usually not sold beyond about 10% strength because they can actually be a little bit dangerous (skin irritation, skin burns) beyond 10% strength.

But obviously you Estonians know how to handle the stuff! :-)

This means I will have to use much more vinegar when I make this dish, as most vinegars sold here seem to be 4 to 8 percent. My standard white vinegar I like to use is 4 %.