Lithuanians traditionally serve at least 12 dishes on their Christmas Eve table and herring, prepared in different ways, has a special place on it.
“Herring must be on the Christmas Eve table, but it's equally important to keep a balance and not make it into a herring festival,” says Beata Nicholson, a TV host and cook book author. Speakig to LRT.lt, Nicholson shared her favourite herring recipe.
Christmas Eve – or Kūčios in Lithuanian – is about tradition so one may be excused for not innovating in the kitchen, Nicholson says. Her holiday table usually contains four herring dishes, but she wouldn't judge those who do not follow the tradition. “Not having time is no crime against humanity,” according to Nicholson.
Those short on time can easily buy readily prepared herring, while even half an hour is enough to make two different herring dishes.
“Buy prepared herring fillets and make two layers of dressing. For example, fry some leeks on a pan with olive oil. Then separate them into two parts. Mix one with fried pumpkins and pickled mushrooms and the other with boiled beetroots you can buy in a shop. Add some vinegar, salt and you will have two great dressings that you will – I kid you not – make in 20 minutes,” Nicholson says.
There are innumerable ways to serve herring: with chopped mushrooms and onions, with cinnamon and raisins, with mashed potatoes and boiled onions, with onions and beetroot, according to the chef.
“I always make herring with stewed carrots, leeks, cranberries and raisins,” says Nicholson, who is the host of the cooking show Beatos Virtuvė (‘Beata's Kitchen’) on LRT TV.
She offers one of her herring recipes for those willing to try out something new.
Beata Nicholson's Philippine Kinilaw herring
3-4 herring fillets
1 lemon or 2 limes (calamansi in the Philippines)
1 big red onion
0.5 ginger root
1 chili pepper (can be more if dried)
Cut all the ingredients into big pieces, and the onion into rings. Mix everything. Although the Philippine Kinilaw is served with rice, Nicholson believes that it goes even better with boiled potatoes.