Herring, oats and bacon fat
October 26, 2007
I just wanted to share the sleek, metallic beauty of these two herrings with you. I only get to indulge my plebian passion for these oily little critters when Maths Chick has vacated the building. The pungent smell of Clupea Maxima under a fierce grill is enough to make her dainty nostrils flare with disgust.
The other day I was reading about Billingsgate Fish market back in the 19th century, when it was estimated that 250,000 barrels of herrings, holding about 150 fish per barrel, were sold at the market every year. Which comes out at 37,500,000 herring in total, a large proportion of which would have been eaten by the labouring classes of the capital. It seems that Victorian London went to work on a sprat.
This dish came about from a lazy mis-reading of a Jane Grigson recipe, which called for a boned herring to be covered in oatmeal, fried in rendered bacon fat and served with plenty of chopped parsley and lemon wedges. I used porridge oats instead of the oatmeal, and despite being both crunchy and chewy at the same time, it wasn’t half bad. But then I’m a Bakewell lad by upbringing, with an inherited faith in culinary mistakes.