It’s that time of the year again!
The Dutch are obsessed with the season’s first herring, called Hollandse Nieuwe. The arrival of this slippery treat is usually front-page news. First barrel of new herring is auctioned off for charity. After that, everyone can indulge as the herring is sold everywhere and herring parties are held.
Herring is a small, oil silvery-colored fish found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean. Herring is partially gutted when caught and then salted and frozen for a minimum of two days to prevent parasites. It’s partially gutted as the pancreas is left in, as its enzymes mature the fish and develop its flavour. It’s further cleaned and prepared at the herring stalls on the market or at the fishmongers. So it’s not actually raw, despite popular belief.
The traditional way to eat a herring is by grabbing the fish by its tail, dipped in raw onions, throw your head back and down the hatch it goes. Just be quick or your face will be covered with onions. That’s how we eat it in Rotterdam, the proper way. Amsterdammers usually eat their herring sliced and topped with chopped onions or pickles, using a toothpick decorated with a Dutch flag.