Potted Herrings

Potted Herrings
Potted Herrings

This is a very tasty and easy dish that Ma used to make in the summertime when the herrings were in season. We had a travelling fish seller who came every week in his horse and cart, and his cry of, "Ardglass herrings, Ardglass herrings!" brought the delighted house wives onto the street to buy his fish. Ardglass was, and still is, a famous fishing port on the Irish Sea near to the mouth of Strangford Lough where himself likes to go wildfowling. It was handy to have these herrings ready in the refrigerator when the Doctor was on call and I could never be quite sure when he would return from his home visits. These will keep for several days in a refrigerator and taste even better after leaving overnight. Herrings are members of the sardine family and have lots of little bones. Somehow they just seem to melt when cooked like this.

Serves4 people




  • 8 herrings, cleaned, scaled, and wiped dry inside and out with heads and tails removed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Equal parts water and malt vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.

  2. Roll the herrings from the tail end and place side by side in a 8 by 6-inch (20 by 15-cm) baking dish so that each one supports the other and prevents it from unrolling.

  3.  Cover with the onion, bay leaves, pickling spice, pepper to taste, vinegar, and water. 

  4. Cover the dish with a lid or with aluminium foil and cook for about 35 minutes.

  5. Allow to cool before serving with buttered Irish Wheaten Bread or baby new potatoes cooked in their skins and slathered in butter.


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