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How To Eat Herring Like A Dutchman

You don’t have to live in Holland long, before you notice the fish stalls. Most, like this one near the Dutch parliament, are colourful and distinctive.

A typical Dutch fish stall.

A typical Dutch fish stall.

They sell all kinds of fish meals. There’s fish and chips, of course, and shrimp croquettes but if you try only one thing then let it be a haring (herring). The herring are caught every year in the late spring or early summer. They’re then put in a mild salt brine to store, where they stay until they’re served up at the fish stalls. If the herring is served in a bun, it’s called a broodje haring.

Broodje Haring - our personal favourite.

Broodje Haring – our personal favourite.

We prefer our herring for lunch, but they’re also known as a traditional remedy against hangovers. Herring for breakfast, anyone?

The other way to eat herring is ‘straight up’ without a bun. You hold the herring by its tail and lower it slowly into your mouth. When we first moved to the Netherlands, we weren’t sure about ‘herring etiquette’ so we asked our Dutch friend and neighbour Mark to show us how to eat herring properly. He took us to his local fish stall.

Mark and Andrew at the herring stall.

Mark and Andrew at the herring stall.

We ordered up a few herring, and then watched as the fish were cleaned and prepared in front of us. This is one hallmark of a good fish stall.

In our opinion, the best herring are the ones that are prepared freshly in front of you!

In our opinion, the best herring are the ones that are prepared freshly in front of you!

Soon, the first herring was ready to go. We had it the traditional way, lightly sprinkled with raw onions. In the local slang, this is known as a ‘harinkie met uitjes‘.

Herring with onions - simple yet punchy!

Herring with onions – simple yet punchy!

First Mark showed us how to eat it…

Mark demonstrates good haring-eating technique.

Mark demonstrates good haring-eating technique.

…and then Andrew followed suit.

Andrew attempts to eat his first herring, the Dutch way.

Andrew attempts to eat his first herring, the Dutch way.

Delicious! If you want to try a Dutch herring, use the Haring Test website to find the best herring in your area! In Den Haag, we can recommend the Haringkraam Buitenhof, shown in the first picture in this post.

Where to find it: Haringkraam Buitenhof, Buitenhof 22, 2513AG, Den Haag.

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