Herrings Marinated in Vinegar with Dill & Allspice


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Falling Cloudberries

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2004

  • About

This is how my mother makes her herrings. There are many ways to marinate and serve herrings and these are my favourite, marinated in vinegar, some sugar, carrots, onions, dill and allspice. I also like them done with tomato and onion. They need to stay in their marinade for about three days before you eat them. Keep the jar in the fridge and make sure that the herrings are immersed in the liquid. They will keep for about a week in the fridge and the flavour will get stronger. I use lightly smoked salted herrings and you can also use unsmoked if you prefer. You might also like to add a dried red chilli to your jar. These herrings are good served with room temperature potatoes that have been boiled with salt and dill stalks, or rye bread.


  • 4 lightly smoked salted herrings (about 1 kg/2 lb 4 oz), gutted
  • 500 ml (2 cups) light red wine vinegar
  • about 120 g ( oz) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 flat teaspoon whole allspice (pimento) berries
  • 3 bay leaves
  • a small handful of dill or wild fennel sprigs, roughly chopped
  • 3 onions, cut into rings
  • 2 largish carrots, sliced


Rinse the herrings and soak them overnight in cold water, changing it a couple of times.

To fillet a herring, cut off the head and tail and then open the fish out flat, skin side up. Using your thumb, press down firmly along the backbone. This will nearly release the bones from the flesh. Turn the fish over and use scissors to snip through the backbone at the head and tail. Pull away the backbone, working towards the tail end. Remove any stray bones with your fingers or tweezers. Wash the fish and pat it dry. Cut the herring fillets into 2–3 cm (1 inch) strips.

Meanwhile, boil the vinegar, sugar, peppercorns and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a small pan for a few minutes, stirring to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the allspice and bay leaves. Leave to cool down completely.

Layer the herring strips in jars with the dill, onion rings and carrots. Pour the cooled liquid into the jars, put on the lids tightly and keep refrigerated. Marinate for three days (or at least 24 hours if you’re in a hurry) before serving. The herrings are also good drained of vinegar and served on a plate with a drizzle of olive oil.