Sweet-sour pickled herring, soaked in vinegar spiked with sugar, spices, and aromatics, is one of the crowning glories of the table at Midsummer celebrations in Sweden. Piled atop crispbread and garnished with minced red onion and chives, it's the ideal foil for shots of aquavit. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2014 issue with Per Styregård's story "A Midsummer's Dream."
- 2⁄3 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup white vinegar
- 12 whole black peppercorns
- 10 allspice berries
- 10 whole cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 small red onions (1 thinly sliced, 1 minced)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1⁄2 small leek, white part only, halved and thinly sliced
- 12 oz. salted herring fillets, rinsed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
- 1⁄2 cup minced chives
- Horseradish and mustard sauces, for serving, optional
Boil sugar, vinegar, and 1 cup water in a 2-qt. saucepan until sugar is dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in peppercorns, allspice, cloves, bay leaves, sliced onion, carrot, and leek; let cool. Add herring and cover with plastic wrap; chill for 72 hours. Remove fillets from vinegar mixture and pat dry using paper towels; cut into ½"-thick slices and transfer to a serving platter; garnish with minced onion and chives and serve with sauces, if you like.