Fried Herrings with Oatmeal and a Beetroot Relish

Why is it that fresh sardines are so highly thought of and yet herrings are largely ignored? Firstly, they're very closely related, so their taste is similar; secondly, herrings don't have to be imported and therefore are fresh, plump and bright, and, being larger, they have more lovely, juicy flesh. Any leftover beetroot relish can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

Serves 2

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two and The Delia Collection: Fish

Fried Herrings with Oatmeal and a Beetroot Relish
 2 medium-sized herrings weighing 10-12 oz (275-350 g) each when whole, boned
 3 oz (75 g) pinhead oatmeal (coarse oatmeal)
 2 heaped tablespoons seasoned plain flour
 1 large egg, beaten
 2 tablespoons lard or flavourless oil
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the beetroot relish:
 6 oz (175 g) cooked beetroot, chopped into ¼ inch (5 mm) dice
 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
 4 cornichons (baby gherkins), finely chopped
 1 heaped tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and drained
 1 dessertspoon red wine vinegar
 1 level dessertspoon good-quality mayonnaise
 a little chopped fresh parsley, to serve
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
To garnish:
 a few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
 a few lime wedges
You will also need a frying pan with a diameter of 10 inches (25.5 cm).


Begin by making the beetroot relish and to do this simply mix all the ingredients together and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Now wipe the herrings with kitchen paper, then place them, flesh side up, on a plate and season well. Dip both sides into the seasoned flour, then dip the flesh-side only into first the beaten egg, then the oatmeal, pressing it down firmly into their flesh.

Now heat the lard or oil in the frying pan over a high heat until it's shimmering hot, then fry the herrings flesh side (oatmeal side) down for 2-3 minutes, or until they look golden and crusty when you lift a little with a spatula. Now flip them over using a spatula and fork and let them cook for another 1-2 minutes, then transfer them to crumpled greaseproof or kitchen paper to drain before serving with the relish and some waxy potatoes. Garnish with the parsley and lime wedges.

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