Photo: Helping childhood cancer patients with sustainable herring

(Credit: Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer)

A team of local fishers raised $225,000 in four years for cancer patients at B.C. Children's Hospital by selling folks the humble, but delicious, herring.

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This year's Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer annual herring sale features two catches on Saturday, December 6 — in Victoria and in Steveston, B.C. . The commercial fishing industry covers all event costs, so every penny raised is donated.

"The best thing about the herring sale is that 100 per cent of the money goes to the kids," says Brent Melan, the Burnaby captain responsible for collecting the herring for the sale.

"I'm one of over 100 volunteers who so willingly donate not only resources but endless hours of time to plan and run this event most effectively and efficiently," he said. "Key people and companies donate everything for the event from the fishing vessel, unloading facility and fish bags, to their time devoted as boat crewmen, forklift drivers, traffic controllers and fish baggers. Volunteers have bagged more than 10,000 twenty-pound bags of herring since the event started."

The healthy, sustainable B.C. herring fishery starts mid-November and runs through December. Gulf of Georgia herring stocks are estimated at 200,000 tonnes this year. If you put all those herring nose to tail, you'd circle the Earth 8.5 times! Seventy tonnes will be harvested near Nanaimo for this year's Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer herring sale.

The 2014 Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer herring sale takes place on Saturday, December 6 in both Steveston, B.C. (from 8 4 p.m. at 12740 Trites Road) and in Victoria, B.C. (at Finest at Sea Seafoods, 27 Erie Street, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.). For more information, please see

Whether or not you can attend the sale, you can experiment with these two great recipes featuring B.C. herring. Try some of this delicious and sustainable little fish!

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Grilled B.C. herring with fingerling potatoes, Savoy cabbage, bacon and caraway

Recipe from Frank Pabst, Executive Chef at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar. Serves four.
(Credit: avlxyz via Flickr)
  • 12 small fingerling potatoes
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 slices bacon, in thin strips (optional)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 to 4 sprigs parsley, chopped (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 8 fresh herring, scaled, gutted and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Add potatoes to a medium pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes until they are cooked through. Remove potatoes from the water, allow them to cool slightly, and then peel. Melt half the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add bacon and render for two minutes, then add onion, garlic and caraway seeds and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add Savoy cabbage, season with salt and pepper, and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine and cook until wine has reduced completely, three to four minutes. Add chicken stock and cook for about five minutes until cabbage is done. Add parsley and potatoes, and heat until warmed through.

Drain the cabbage, straining the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan. Reserve the cabbage and the potatoes. Whisk Dijon mustard and the remaining half of the butter into the liquid, then finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Preheat a grill to high. Brush herring lightly with canola oil, season with salt and pepper and grill for two to three minutes on each side.

To serve
Arrange two herring on each of four plates. Heap a quarter of the cabbage and potatoes to the side and drizzle the dish with the mustard sauce.

Cured B.C. herring tartare with Granny Smith apple, red onions and coriander

Recipe from Frank Pabst, Executive Chef at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar. Serves four.
  • Herring tartare
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 frozen herring, thawed and scaled
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 2 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 1 bunch baby watercress plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tbsp walnut oil
  • dash of sherry vinegar
  • 4 slices pumpernickel bread
  • Onion beignets
  • 4 cups canola oil, for deep-frying
  • 1/4 cup tempura flour
  • 1/4 cup water, ice cold
  • 1/2 small onion, cut in 8 thin rings

Method: Herring tartare

In a medium saucepan, combine water, salt and sugar and bring to a boil on high heat. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then chill this brine in the refrigerator.

On each herring, make an incision behind either side of the head to expose the spine. Place the herring on its back, then pull the head slowly upwards and towards the tail. This way you should be able to pull out most of the tiny bones, although you will likely never get them all. Cut out the fins, then cut the fillets off the bones and debone the flesh as much as possible. Discard heads, spines and fins. Place fillets in the cold brine for one hour, then lay them out on a dry towel and scrape off most of the skin. Dice the herring fillets into 1/4-inch cubes. Reserve a few pieces for garnish.

Peel and core one apple and dice it into 1/4-inch cubes. Core and julienne the remaining apple.

In a small bowl, mix together sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Add coriander seeds, red onion, diced apple and herring.

Toss julienned apple with watercress, walnut oil and vinegar.

Method: Onion beignets
In a deep fryer or a deep pot, heat canola oil to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine flour and water until just mixed. There will still be small lumps in the batter. Dip onion rings in the batter, then fry them for one minute or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and allow them to drain on several layers of paper towel. Season with salt.

To Serve
Arrange a quarter of the herring tartare in a line on each of four plates. Top with the reserved herring pieces and the apple salad. Arrange watercress around the plate and serve with a slice of pumpernickel bread and two onion beignets.

November 25, 2014

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