How to Make Chopped Herring: A Delicious and Nutritious Jewish Appetizer

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Chopped herring, also known as forshmak or gehakte herring, is a dish made of cured herring, eggs, apples, onions, and seasonings. It is usually served cold on crackers, bread, or matzah. Chopped herring has a long history in Jewish cuisine, dating back to medieval Germany, where it was originally a hot dish with fried herring. Over time, it evolved into a cold spread that became popular among Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe and beyond.

Why You Should Try Chopped Herring

Chopped herring is not only tasty, but also nutritious. Here are some of the benefits of eating chopped herring:

It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Herring is an oily fish that contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart and brain health. Omega-3s can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots, and improve mood and memory. They can also protect against certain types of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

It is low in mercury

Unlike some other types of fish, such as tuna or swordfish, herring has very low levels of mercury, a harmful toxin that can damage the nervous system. Mercury is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children, who should limit their intake of high-mercury fish. Herring is a safe choice for anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of seafood without the risks of mercury.

It is easy to digest

Chopped herring is a light and refreshing appetizer that does not weigh you down or cause indigestion. The vinegar and sugar in the recipe help to preserve the herring and make it more palatable. The apples and onions add crunch and sweetness, while the eggs provide protein and creaminess. The result is a balanced and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed by anyone.

How to Make Chopped Herring

Making chopped herring is not difficult, but it does require some preparation and patience. Here are the steps to follow:

Pick the right herring

The first thing you need to do is to choose the type of herring you want to use. You can either buy fresh herring and cure it yourself with salt and vinegar, or buy ready-made pickled or brined herring from the store. The advantage of curing your own herring is that you can control the amount of salt and flavorings you add. The advantage of buying pre-cured herring is that you save time and effort.

If you decide to cure your own herring, you will need about 4 fillets of fresh herring. Rinse them well and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut them into small pieces and place them in a glass jar or bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt over them and toss well. Cover the jar or bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The next day, drain the liquid from the jar or bowl and rinse the herring pieces under cold water. Transfer them to a clean jar or bowl and add enough white vinegar to cover them completely. You can also add some sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves, or other spices if you like. Cover the jar or bowl again and refrigerate for another 24 hours.

If you decide to buy pickled or brined herring, you will need about 4 fillets as well. Drain them from the jar or can and rinse them under cold water. Cut them into small pieces and place them in a glass jar or bowl.

Cook the eggs

While the herring is curing or soaking in vinegar, you can cook the eggs for the recipe. You will need 2 hard-boiled eggs for this dish. To make hard-boiled eggs, place them in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Then drain the water and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool enough to handle.

Peel the eggs and chop them finely with a knife or an egg slicer. Set them aside in a small bowl.

Prepare the apple and onion

You will also need 1 apple and 1 tablespoon of minced onion for this recipe. The apple adds a nice crunch and sweetness to the chopped herring, while the onion adds a bit of sharpness and flavor. You can use any type of apple you like, but we recommend a tart variety, such as Granny Smith or Jonathan.

Peel and core the apple and chop it into small pieces. Place them in a small bowl and sprinkle some lemon juice over them to prevent browning. Peel and chop the onion finely and add it to the same bowl. Toss well and set aside.

Blend everything together

Now you are ready to blend everything together and make the chopped herring. You will need a food processor or a blender for this step. You will also need 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of white or rice wine vinegar to balance the flavors.

Place the herring pieces, the egg pieces, the apple and onion mixture, the sugar, and the vinegar in the food processor or blender. Pulse until everything is well combined and smooth. You can adjust the consistency by adding more vinegar or water if it is too thick, or more herring or eggs if it is too thin.

Transfer the chopped herring to a serving bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld and the texture to firm up.

Serve with bread or crackers

Chopped herring is best served cold on bread or crackers. You can use any type of bread you like, such as rye, pumpernickel, sourdough, or challah. You can also use matzah if you are making this dish for Passover. Alternatively, you can use crackers, such as saltines, matzah crackers, or rye crisps.

To serve, spread some chopped herring on a slice of bread or a cracker and enjoy. You can also garnish it with some scallions or fresh dill for extra color and flavor.

A Table Breakdown of Chopped Herring Nutrition

Chopped herring is not only delicious, but also nutritious. Here is a table breakdown of the nutrition facts for one serving (1/4 cup) of chopped herring:

|Nutrient|Amount|% Daily Value|
|——–|——|————-|
|Calories|92 kcal|5%|
|Fat|6 g|9%|
|Saturated Fat|1 g|5%|
|Cholesterol|87 mg|29%|
|Sodium|230 mg|10%|
|Carbohydrates|3 g|1%|
|Fiber|0 g|0%|
|Sugar|3 g|-|
|Protein|5 g|10%|
|Vitamin A|2%|-|
|Vitamin C|1%|-|
|Calcium|2%|-|
|Iron|4%|-|

As you can see, chopped herring is low in calories, carbohydrates, and saturated fat, but high in protein, cholesterol, and sodium. It also provides some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

To make chopped herring healthier, you can reduce the amount of sugar and salt you add to the recipe, or use low-sodium herring. You can also use low-fat or fat-free yogurt instead of eggs to make it creamier and lower in cholesterol and fat.

FAQs About Chopped Herring

What is chopped herring?

Chopped herring is a traditional Jewish appetizer made of cured herring, eggs, apples, onions, and seasonings. It is usually served cold on bread or crackers.

Where does chopped herring come from?

Chopped herring originated in medieval Germany, where it was a hot dish with fried herring. It later became a cold spread that was popular among Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe and beyond.

What does chopped herring taste like?

Chopped herring has a salty, fishy, tangy, and sweet taste. It has a smooth and creamy texture with some crunch from the apples and onions.

How long does chopped herring last?

Chopped herring can last for up to a week in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container. You can also freeze it for up to three months.

Can I make chopped herring with other types of fish?

Yes, you can make chopped herring with other types of fish that are similar to herring, such as sardines, mackerel, or anchovies. You can also use smoked.salmon, trout, or whitefish. However, the taste and texture may vary depending on the type of fish you use.

What can I serve with chopped herring?

Chopped herring is a versatile appetizer that can be served with various accompaniments. Some of the common ones are:

  • Cheese: You can serve chopped herring with cheese, such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, or cheddar cheese. Cheese adds a creamy and savory element to the dish.
  • Salad: You can serve chopped herring with salad, such as green salad, coleslaw, or potato salad. Salad adds a fresh and crunchy element to the dish.
  • Soup: You can serve chopped herring with soup, such as chicken soup, vegetable soup, or borscht. Soup adds a warm and comforting element to the dish.

Is chopped herring kosher?

Chopped herring is kosher if it is made with kosher ingredients and prepared according to Jewish dietary laws. Herring is a kosher fish because it has fins and scales. Eggs are also kosher if they come from kosher birds and do not have blood spots. Apples, onions, sugar, and vinegar are also kosher. However, you should always check the labels of the products you use and make sure they have a reliable kosher certification.

Is chopped herring gluten-free?

Chopped herring is gluten-free if it is made with gluten-free ingredients and does not contain any wheat, barley, rye, or oats. However, you should always check the labels of the products you use and make sure they do not have any gluten or cross-contamination. You should also avoid serving chopped herring on bread or crackers that contain gluten. Instead, you can use gluten-free bread or crackers, or matzah if you are making this dish for Passover.

Is chopped herring vegan?

Chopped herring is not vegan because it contains animal products, such as herring and eggs. However, you can make a vegan version of chopped herring by using plant-based alternatives, such as tofu, tempeh, or seitan for the herring, and vegan mayonnaise or yogurt for the eggs. You can also add some nutritional yeast or vegan cheese for extra flavor and nutrition.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this article about how to make chopped herring, a delicious and nutritious Jewish appetizer that is easy to prepare and full of flavor. Chopped herring is a great way to enjoy the benefits of seafood without the risks of mercury. It is also a versatile dish that can be served with various accompaniments and adapted to different dietary preferences.

If you liked this article, please check out our other articles on our website for more recipes and tips for cooking and eating healthy. Thank you for reading and happy cooking!

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