Thursday, May 1, 2014

Herring Roe - recipe

When Sue’s timid Aunt Alice meets and marries the charming Ben, Sue worries about her Aunt's happiness. Despite assurances that all is well, Sue cannot shake her misgivings. Ben’s overbearing and bullying behaviour and his obsession with spiders, fuels Sue's desire to uncover the truth.

Happy May Day!

Herring Roe on Toast

  • 1/2 cup anise hyssop flowers, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 Here on the Eastern Shore, Herring came every spring and still do, though not in the well-remembered numbers of the herring runs of yesteryear.

They are a very boney fish and the joke was the best thing  to do for a herring was nail it to a board, smoke it for three days, then discard the fish and eat the board. The point, of course, was that splinters were more easily managed than herring bones.

The reason everyone went out and caught as many herring as they could when they spawned, was the delicious roe. Local Indians pickled the fish (when the pickling brine was strong enough, the bones got soft like sardines), but while pickling happened on my great-grandfather's farm, people in town just threw away the fish and ate the roe. 

Our family tradition was always to have herring roe for Sunday breakfast when the herring made their way into our creek.


  • 1 lb herring, roes (what my Granny called "a good mess."
  • 1/2 cup seasoned flour
  • 1 tsp  cayenne pepper
  • 3 to 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 dash of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  •  8 slices hot toast, made with  thick sliced white bread
To serve:
  •   8 even-sized lemon wedges
  •   4 sprigs parsley, chopped


1. Put a pan of water on to boil. Add the herring roes, bring back to the boil, and then drain thoroughly. 

2. Mix the flour with cayenne and pepper in a pie tin.

3. Roll the roes in the flour until evenly coated.

4. Heat butter with the oil in a frying pan until the butter foams (DO NOT overheat the pan). Fry the roes in the fat, until golden brown on each side. Drain on kitchen paper and discard the fat left in the pan.

5. Melt the remaining butter in the pan, and as soon as it starts to foam, return the roes to the pan and squeeze over a touch of lemon juice. Turn the roes so that they are coated in buttery lemony juices.

6. Place the slices of toast on plates and spoon over the roes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, dust lightly with a little more cayenne pepper, and tuck the lemon wedges in beside them. Serve immediately.

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