Going Dutch: Eating Herring The Traditional Way

How do you like your herring? We can now confidently say that we like them raw!

Yes, you read correctly – raw. Well, it’s traditional in Holland, you know and of course tasting Dutch herring the traditional way was on our list of things to experience here so today we went with our friend Mark to a local fish stall in the Bomenbuurt of The Hague (literally, the Tree District and so called because all the streets are named after trees)  to try this delicacy.

Here are Mark and Andrew, in front of the fish stall.

Mark and Andrew

Mark recommended we start with a simple herring, covered in raw onions. I’m not a huge fan of raw onions but in this case they really complement the flavour of the fish. Here’s what the herring looked like when it was ready to eat.

Our herring, the second round!

Before we could eat the herring, we needed a lesson from our Dutch expert. You’re supposed to hold the cleaned herring (the head has been taken off) high above your mouth and slowly lower it in. It’s almost an artform.

Mark shows us how to do it

Andrew caught on very quickly. What a pro!

Andrew does it like a pro

The salty fish (it’s not cooked but cured in a brine) and onions really hit the spot. We loved it! So of course we ordered another round and kept the fish seller busy.

Cleaning the herring

While we waited, we admired the large selection of other fish he had for sale.

The selection of fish at the Haring stall

After two rounds of plain herring, we finished off with herring in a bun. It’s a little less messy (there’s no risk of onions falling down your shirt, which did happen to Friedel) and easier to take away. The bun must be white – no whole grain bread here.

Herring in a bun


  1. Andrea
    1st December 2009 at 4:30 am #

    This sounds very similar to Solomon Gundy, except fresh and not from a bottle.

  2. paul rother
    1st December 2009 at 5:44 am #

    Hi to the both of you,
    salted Herring , ok
    but was it also pickled in Vinigar ?
    called Solomon Gundy , here in Eastern Canada esp, NS and NB

  3. friedel
    1st December 2009 at 6:32 am #

    Hi Paul and Andrea,

    It’s definitely not solomon gundy. There is no vinegar involved and the fish was lightly salted, at least to my taste buds, so it’s not like say the heavily salted cod you see in Portugal either. When you taste the fish, the salt is not overwhelming.

    Rollmops would be closer to solomon gundy. They have those here too but you don’t generally eat them as ‘fast food’ like these herring.

  4. sarah
    1st December 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    Well, you know that food is my biggest hobby… and I eat most anything…. This just seems a bit odd. I would be quite keen to try it! Do you think that you will eat it again, or regularly? Or are you happy now that you have tried it once?

  5. friedel
    1st December 2009 at 8:07 pm #

    I really like it Sarah. I would happily have it as a snack if I passed by a stall (and didn’t have any meetings afterwards – the fishy breath is the one downside!)

  6. Ingrid
    1st December 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    I would love to jump on a train and be with you as fast as possible. Because first of all, I miss you so much at the moment and second, I love NIEUWE HARINGS and all this choice of fresh fish and shellfish. I am a little bit jealous…

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    2nd December 2009 at 4:10 am #

    I love that kind of fish too.I love any kind of fish,except shark.

  8. friedel
    2nd December 2009 at 5:54 am #

    Awwww. We miss you too, Ingrid & Yves! Hey, we can send some Haring to you for Christmas 🙂

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