Saturday, October 01, 2016

Frugal cooking: Herring

Herring is a fish. An overlooked fish in the shadow of its more glamorous neighbor, salmon, or its more utilitarian chicken of the sea neighbor, tuna.

Tuna has gotten so gross and mercury laden I decided to look for a lower mercury laden fish and lo and behold, on the bottom shelf under the tuna are herring and anchovies and kippers (which are herring anyway). I decided to try a few and though some are unappetizing, the herring in hot sauce seemed to be a happy compromise price and taste wise. Now, how to use them?

I rinse my hot sauce-soaked herring in a strainer. This removes the sauce and hotness but leaves a little tang behind. It also gets rid of the saltiness that comes with many canned items. I mix it with cream cheese and either cukes or apple. Today it was apple. Season to taste. The canned fish I'd mentioned such as anchovies, herring, mackerel, and kippers are a good alternative to tuna and are cost effective, while offering some fiber and protein.

You can use the mixture as a dip with crackers but today I used it as a spread on lightly fried bread. The local store had marked down a loaf which expired the day I bought it, and since I didn't use the bread for another two days, sometimes frying or toasting stale bread is a good way to give it new life.

By the way, I always buy any red sticker item. If it's marked down, I buy it. On Friday I emerged with three heavy bags of groceries of all dairy, fruit, and vegetables, for $16. The bread I mentioned, (it can be toasted), the mushrooms will go into a quiche, the apples were fine, the oranges will be cut up and used to infuse water, the potatoes were fine, the bananas will be made into muffins, the tomatoes were fine except for one that was a bit soft so I cooked it for dinner, and so on. With only one exception the marked down produce I buy either at the local store or Kroger has been perfectly fine, especially if I eat it or cook it within a day. The sole exception was a cellophane box of kiwis that were actually brown skinned water balloons. Oh, well, they were only $1. Take a chance, people. We mark down or throw away more good food than many poverty-stricken people see in a lifetime.

Back to herring spread on bread. I put enough oil on the bottom of the pan just to coat the pan. I used olive oil this time but any oil will suffice, depending on your own taste preferences.

It won't take long and when one side is done I flip and wait until they are golden brown.

Oops, it seems my coil has a hot spot. That, or my pan wasn't centered, as one of the slices is a lot more brown than it should be! It will still be good. Spread the herring spread on the toast and even though there is apple in the mixture I added a couple slices on the top. The cool apple contrasted with the hot sauce still lurking in the herring, and it was good.

Not wanting to waste, since this is frugal cooking after all, I sliced the rest of my small apple and used it for garnish on the side. Not all that pretty, but functional. Perish the thought I'd be garnish-less.

A hot cup of Rooibos on the side and I was good to go. I had a healthy, protein laden lunch that used a frugally priced bread in a way that didn't cost a lot, didn't take long to prepare, and was pretty tasty.

Don't be afraid to try some of those weird canned fishes you see on the store shelves. They're reasonably priced so if you don't like them or can't eat them, you won't be wasting a bunch of money. If you do like them, then bonus, you've added a protein to the rotation of recipes and saved yourself from mercury madness to boot.

Seafood selector

Tinned fish recipes

Kippers are back in favor


Anonymous said...

I've been hoping you'd have another frugal cooking post soon! I'm not sure I could stomach herring if it's anything like anchovies. I tried those, I really tried, but just couldn't do it. I like canned salmon, and will make it into salmon cakes. Think crab cakes, but with salmon instead of crab.

I dug back into some of your old posts because I recalled you having some recipes involving quinoa and black beans. I've been looking for some more good ideas for quinoa. I just tried a quinoa, wild rice, and lentil dish. It was just a blend of those three, then I seasoned it somewhat like Spanish rice. It was so good!

You need to keep up with the frugal cooking posts. I get a lot of meal ideas from you! Speaking of... your mention of bananas made me think: banana nut bread. I have been having a hankering for that lately. I also just looked online for a quiche recipe. That's something I've never tried making at home. So now that you mentioned quiche, I'm going to have to try that as well!

Thanks for the great ideas!


Elizabeth Prata said...

Mmm, quinoa, wild rice, and lentil dish sounds really good. I usually just make soup with the lentils but using them in that way would make for a nice change of pace.

Fresh anchovies are nothing like the salty abomination we usually think of atop pizza. They are a less oily alternative to herring and taste fresh and light. I have not tried canned anchovies but I bet they are better than the salted, dried version.

My quiche recipe uses only 3 eggs and it's so fast to put it together it's almost as quick as a snack. I like mushroom and cheese quiche and broccoli cheese quiche a lot, but seafood quiche is good too. Let me know how yours turns out.

Anonymous said...

Haha, my husband reminded me last night that it was in fact sardines that I tried and couldn't stomach, not anchovies. I get those two fish mixed up for some reason. Anyhow, they were in some sort of red sauce, and I just did not like them one bit.

The quiche recipe I found calls for 8 (!!!) eggs, but it's also big enough for several meals. My husband requested ham and cheese. I did get him to acquiesce to having some broccoli in there. :) I bet I could add mushrooms as well; he loves mushrooms.

I also use lentils in a pilaf. I sauté diced carrot, onion, garlic in olive oil, add lentils, thyme, diced tomatoes, and broth, and cook until the lentils are tender. Separately, you can cook a small pasta like orzo or rice, but I typically do rice. When both are done, you combine them, and enjoy. I adapted the recipe from something I found in Vegetarian Times magazine. Even though I'm not a vegetarian, it's a great recipe!


Anonymous said...

Ok, I made the quiche sooner than I anticipated. I ran some errands today, and went to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients I lacked. As it turned out, the ham was on sale, and the use by date was today! So I took advantage of that, and made quiche for tonight's dinner.

I did a crustless ham, cheese, broccoli, and mushroom quiche. It was really delicious. My husband loved it. I am pleased, because this is the first time I've ever made a quiche. For some reason, I always saw them as intimidating, but it was quite easy.

Thanks for the inspiration!


Eugenie said...

Pretty pretty china!