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