Meet the latest, and last, addition to Alaska Herring Week 2017: Pickled Alaska Herring on Sea Wolf Rye Cracker, with ricotta, shaved kohlrabi, cucumber and jalapeno from Sea Wolf Bakers! Perfect on a hot summer day. Sea Wolf is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, which means you should hurry to Lower Stone Way today to try it on the last day of Alaska Herring Week 2017!
So far this Alaska Herring Week, I have eaten 54 different herring dishes at 43 different establishments. Yes, I am the extreme, because, as Alaska Herring Week event coordinator, it is my job. But I also love it. Every dish is different. Seriously. Every chef has come at this from a different angle, so each of the 70+ dishes across 54 places (two grocers are selling to-go preparations) is unique.
Indeed, herring is a globally-eaten fish, and we have Alaska Herring Week dishes representing cultures from all over the world to prove it, including China, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Vietnam and all over the US, from New England to New Orleans to the Pacific Northwest, and more. But nowhere did we see so much joy over the return of herring to our local plates than at the Swedish Club during Friday, June 23rd’s Midsommar Smörgåsbord.
The Swedish Club was packed on Friday for the feast, and while the menu featured other traditional Swedish fare, Alaska herring was the star of the show. But you had to be there to truly understand why. See, herring is the centerpiece of a traditional Midsommar Smörgåsbord. It is integral to the Swedish culture. It is, for Swedish expats, a taste of home. Unfortunately, herring has been just as unavailable to the Swedish Club for their Midsommar Smörgåsbord as it has been for everyone else in Seattle. This was the first time in years that their solstice feast feautred it. All night, we had one person after another come up to we organizers of Alaska Herring Week and thank us profusely, talk about their family’s history of fishing, about their boats and their pickling plants. They waxed poetic about their favorite places to get herring in Sweden, Denmark and Germany, about childhood memories and more. They came and shook our hands, and they gave us a rousing ovation. It was a delicious feast, but it was more so a moving experience. Putting herring back on their plates was not about sustainability or economic development to them. It was about history, about culture. It was about home. Alaska herring on their Midsommar Smörgåsbord brought them home. And that is why we do Alaska Herring Week.
Pre-Brined Herring Fillets from Central Coop for Alaska Herring Week 2017 make enjoying any of our chefs’ great recipes at home easy! They’ve already done the 3-hour bone-softening brine step for you. All you need to do is soak them for about 30 minutes in ice water to “freshen” them (a.k.a., remove the vinegar flavor), then use them in any of our chefs’ recipes, skipping their bone-softening step! (Note: recipes still may include additional brining steps for flavor.) (Note: herring pin bones are perfectly safe to eat… just texturally bothersome to some folks. This brining step renders the bones texturally inert.)
Introducing Herring Fish Cake, basil-lime leaf sauce vert, pickled serrano, steamed buns from Revel for Alaska Herring Week 2017! Enjoy a truly unique combination of flavors, Korean street food-style, a la Revel!
Butter Poached Alaskan Herring, Black Garbanzos, Charred Romanesco, Castelvetrano Olive Relish from Luc for Alaska Herring Week 2017!
Wanna make this at home? You can purchase the same Alaska Herring fillets being used by Seattle’s top chefs for Alaska Herring Week from Central Coop on Capitol Hill, Freshy’s Seafood Market on Mercer Island, Old Ballard Liquor Co. in Ballard, and Wild Salmon Seafood Market at Fisherman’s Terminal! Once you’ve done that, here’s the recipe:
Butter Poached Alaskan Herring
Black Garbanzos, Charred Romanesco, Castelvetrano Olive Relish
By Chef Andrew Yanak, Luc
- Herring – 2 filets
- Black Garbanzo – ½ cup (can substitute regular garbanzos)
- Romanesco – 4 florets
- Castelvetrano Olives – ¼ cup, sliced thin
- Garlic – 2 T Minced
- Shallot – 2 T Brunoise
- Parsley – 2 T Fresh, chopped
- Thyme – 2 T Fresh, chopped
- Olive Oil – 2 T
- Grenache Vinegar – 1 1/2 T
- S+P – to taste
- Butter – 4 oz
- White wine – 4 oz
- Let herring soak in an acid bath (4 parts vinegar, 2 parts water, 1 part lemon juice) for 4 hours. This softens the pinbone but does not eliminate them. Then soak in cold water for two rotations of 30 minutes each to wash away some of the acid.
- If starting from dry beans, pre soak in water for at least 8 hours. (Start here for canned beans) Then transfer to pot and bring to simmer. Cook beans until just soft. Test by eating, if it still has a bite to it it’s not ready. Strain when cooked and reserve for later.
- Thinly slice the olives and put into mixing bowl with ½ T each of garlic, shallot, parsey, and thyme. Add olive oil enough to coat all ingredients. Add 1 T of the Grenache vinegar and mix. Set aside for plating.
- In a large sauté pan melt 3 oz of butter with 3 oz of white wine. Once it is melted and slightly simmering add 1 T each of garlic, shallot, thyme, and parsley and cook for 1 minute. Gently place herring filets in the butter/wine mixture and cook approximately 4 to 5 minutes being careful not to break up the filets. Once cooked set aside for plating.
- Bring a separate sauté pan up to medium-high heat. Coat the pan with oil and place romanesco florets. Avoid disturbing the florets to produce the charred coloring that is desired. Once romanesco is almost cooked, (think cauliflower), add the garbanzos and cook until just warm. Add the remainder of herbs, garlic and shallot, butter and vinegar and turn off heat. These ingredients should form a sauce to coat the veggies. Set aside for plating.
- Plate your ingredients in whatever whimsical fashion you desire but we suggest stacking from bottom to top the veg, fish, and then relish.
Meet Pickle-Fried Herring with wild ramp parfait, lovage pesto, cucumbers, radishes and peas from Art Of The Table for Alaska Herring Week 2017! Art Of The Table is always seasonal, always local, always artistic, and most importantly, always delicious. And their new location at 38th & Stone Way is spectacular!
A herring cocktail, you say? Why, yes! It is!
Meet Sill & Dill, a herring and dill martini from the Swedish Club for Alaska Herring Week 2017! They are serving it in their bar on Wednesday, June 21st during their Fried Herring Dinner, and on Friday, June 23rd during their Midsommar Smörgåsbord, but if you want to try it, you had better make reservations in advance, as tickets will sell out!
Wanna make this at home? You’ll find the booze and pickled herring at Old Ballard Liquor Co. Here’s the recipe:
Sill & Dill
A Herring & Dill Martini
by Maureen Mullen, Bartender, Swedish Club
- 3/4 oz Old Ballard Dill Midsommar Aquavit
- 2 1/2 oz Old Ballard Well Vodka
- pickled herring
- 1 lemon
- dill fronds
Combine and ice spirits, stir and pour into coupe. Garnish with pickled herring, a lemon twist and a dill frond.