Fried Herring Fillets with a Lime Pepper Crust

This is from Herring: A History of the Silver Darlings by Mike Smylie. Mike wants to see us eating more of this versatile fish, a wish I completely endorse. With a crisp coating of peppercorns and lime zest there’s no excuse.


  • limes 2
  • plain flour 1 tbsp
  • mixed peppercorns 1 heaped tsp, coarsely crushed
  • herring fillets 2, each weighing about 175–200 g/6–7 oz
  • olive oil 2 tbsp
  • sea salt flakes crushed


Finely grate the zest from the limes and add half to the flour. Mix with the peppercorns, spreading the mixture out on a flat plate.

Wipe the herring fillets dry and coat the flesh side with the peppercorn mixture. Press the fish well in to give a good coating, then dust with any remaining flour.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until very hot. Fry the herring, flesh-side down, for 2–3 minutes or until golden underneath, then turn the fish over and fry on the other side for 2 minutes. Drain on crumpled paper towels.

Serve sprinkled with crushed sea salt flakes, the remaining lime zest, and the limes quartered to squeeze over.