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DELICACY: Maatjes Herring From The North Sea

If you like the herring that comes in jars, in wine or cream sauce, we’ve got something so much better for you: nieuwe maatjes herring.

Through Friday, July 3rd, New York City’s Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant is celebrating the Holland Herring Festival.

For 35 years, this has been the first American tasting of the season of nieuwe maatjes haring, the wonderful Dutch herring.

Herring lovers wait all year for the delivery of the cream of the catch to the Oyster Bar. The herring arrives air-expressed from Scheveningen, The Netherlands, a town on the North Sea where the herring fleet makes its home.

This year, fans had to wait an extra week for the catch, due to stormy North Sea waters that made fishing difficult, and herring with very low fat content. An absence of adequate sunlight meant that there was not enough plankton for the herring feed on, so fishermen waited for conditions to change.

   

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A dish of nieuwe maatjes herring fillets. Photo courtesy Takeaway | Wikipedia.

 

But arrive they finally did; the Oyster Bar began serving them yesterday. We were invited to taste them, and we’ll be going back this weekend for more! The catch is limited: Even in The Netherlands, the fish are only available for a month.

 

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Herring soaking in brine. Photo courtesy Fudder.de.
 

Succulent and toothsome delicacy known as nieuwe maatjes herring. At the Oyster Bar, Chef Sandy Ingber serves the herring filets with hard-boiled egg, chopped sweet onion and chives.

The herring filets are priced at $7.00; the herring with garnishes is $7.95 per order. You can walk in and enjoy yours in the bar area, or reserve a table at 212.490.6650.
 
WHAT IS MAATJES HERRING?

Nieuwe, pronounced NEE-wuh, means new in Dutch. Maatje, MAH-tyeh, means fermented or brined. The Dutch word for herring is haring.

After the herring is caught, it is brined* for up to two days, typically in oak barrels. Then, for delivery to the Oyster Bar, it is gutted and the head is removed, The result is a fillet, about five inches long, consisting of both sides of the fish, attached on the non-slit side.

 
*It is brined in salt water. Raw herring pickled in vinegar is called a rollmop.

 

  




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