written on 06/08/2020
by Jutta Triebe

This is the story about pickled herring: in 1853 the German merchant and master brewer Johann Wiechmann from Stralsund started his small business and a short time later won 1000 gold marks in the lottery. With this money he grew his business by  establishing a canned fish factory and opening a shop. One of his products was the filleted and pickled Baltic herring prepared by his wife Karoline in the backhouse. 

Packed in small wooden kegs, they were not only sold on site, but also shipped. As the merchant was a great admirer of Chancellor Bismarck, he sent him a barrel as a sign of his veneration, on the occasion of Bismarck´s birthday. 

The Chancellor liked them and replied with a ‘thank you’ note. After that, the merchant, being a clever man, sent another barrel of herrings on the occasion of the founding of the empire on January 18, 1871. 

The "most submissive" request was whether he could sell this specialty under the brand name "Bismarckhering" in the future. Chancellor Bismarck sent his hand-written agreement and henceforth the specialty was called “Bismarckhering”.    

Recipe:​ “Bismarckhering” or “Sauerlappen”?

1st step: Prepare the salted herrings

  • 1000g grüne Heringe (raw hering)
  • 1000ml vinegar 5% )
  • 80g salt

Leave for 2+ days in this solution; take out and leave in water for two hours; in the meantime prepare the pickle.

2nd step: Prepare the pickle

  • 1 kg salted herrings
  • 800 ml of water
  • 400 ml white wine vinegar
  • 3 larger shallots cut into rings
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp juniper berries
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients, except for the fish, in a saucepan and bring to the boil (only once). Let this brew cool down and chill in the fridge.

Add the fish and put everything in the fridge for 5 days. Turn over from time to time.

This can be eaten with a typical cold sauce:

3rd step: Prepare the sauce

Rheinischer Heringsstipp:

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • 3 Bismarck herring
  • 3-4 pickled cucumbers
  • 1/2 tart apple (e.g. Rubinette)
  • pickled onions
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 150 g Schmand
  • 150 g sour cream
  • 2-3 tbsp pickle
  • pepper and salt

Fillet the Bismarck herrings, remove the bones and cut the filets into bite-size pieces.

Mix the rapeseed oil, sour cream and Schmand with a few tablespoons of the pickle in which the herrings were placed, into a light sauce.

Add the herring pieces. Peel the apple, quarter the half again, remove the seeds and cut into thin slices. Cut the cucumber into thin slices, add both to the fish.

Add about 2 tablespoons of the shallots that were pickled with the herring and stir everything well, season with salt and pepper. Let it steep for at least an hour.

Enjoy with boiled potatoes in butter and endive salad with potato vinaigrette.