“I adore the history, simplicity, taste and method of this recipe. Try mixing the pinhead oats with some oatmeal flour or porridge oats, as the pinheads can fall off in the pan. Don’t overcook it, or worry about the bones as they are a great source of calcium. The oats help you crunch through them, so you won’t notice them at all. If the salad sounds like too much hassle, I love herring cooked this way served with buttery, boiled new potatoes and a big green salad.”
Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes; cooking time: 5 minutes
1 herring, butterflied
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon pinhead oats
1 tablespoon oatmeal or porridge oats
1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil
3 to 4 cherry plum tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon chopped cucumber, seeds removed
1 tablespoon thinly-sliced red onion
1 teaspoon mini capers
1 tablespoon croutons (cubes of stale bread fried in cold-pressed rapeseed oil until golden)
A few strips of roasted pepper
A few radish slices
A few mint leaves, ripped
A few basil leaves, ripped
A few marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon red wine or bramble vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Good salt and pepper
A squeeze of lemon
I’d suggest making the salad first, so mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, capers, croutons, roasted pepper, radish, mint, basil, marjoram, vinegar, oil and seasoning in a bowl and set to one side.
Place the melted butter in a bowl big enough to place the fish fillets into. Do the same with the oats and oatmeal, giving them a season and a quick mix also.
Then dunk the skin-side of herring into the melted butter, then into the oat mix, patting it down firmly so it sticks.
Next, place a good non-stick pan on the hob and heat to moderate temperature and add the rapeseed oil. Then place to fish in, skin-side down, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Try not to move it too much. Then very carefully, flip the fish over using a large fish slice or palette knife. Continue to cook and add more oil if you need to. The oats should be golden, but if not, place the pan under the grill and finish cooking the fish here. Otherwise, continue to cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes and season with salt, pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.
To serve, place the herring on a plate, skin-side up and arrange the salad all around the fish, and eat at once.