Herring Family Pickled Atlantic Herring [Family Clupeidae, various genera and species]

Herring are a family of generally small oily fish of tremendous commercial importance worldwide. Herring can grow to over 18 inches and 1.5 pounds but is generally caught and harvested much smaller. See also Sardines for smaller varieties of Herring.

More on Fish Varieties (very large page).


Atlantic Herring   -   [Clupea harengus harengus]
Salted Atlantic Herring

The most abundant and economically important herring, this round bodied fish can grow to nearly 18 inches and 1.5 pounds but the photo specimen was 13-1/2 inches and weighed 14-3/4 ounces, pickled whole. Atlantic herring is commonly sold pickled or smoked but is eaten raw in Holland and fresh in Northern Europe, particularly Poland.

Whitebait are immature herrings and generally eaten whole. Sild are small immature herrings canned like Sardines in Norway. Marine ecologists classify Atlantic herring as a sustainable harvest.   Details and Cooking.

American Shad   -   [White Shad; Alosa sapidissima]
Whole American Shad

This is an amazingly delicious fish - for experienced fish eaters, as will be explained. It is native to the east coast of North America, from the St Lawrence river, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, south to central Florida, but less common south of Virginia. Some are also found on the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Due to introduction, it is now also found from the south coast of Alaska to The Mexican Border of California, and along the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula. It can grow to 30 inches and 12 pounds, but the photo specimen, purchased from an Asian market in Los Angeles, was 20-1/4 inches and 3 pounds 3 ounces - still pretty big for a herring. Unfortunately, it was sold already scaled, so it should be more silvery. This fish is more closely related to European shad than to other North American shad. It is not considered endangered, IUCN Red Listed LC (Least Concern).   Details and Cooking.

Blue Herring   -   [Skipjack Shad, Alosa chrysochloris]
Whole Blue Herring

While most herring are found in cold ocean waters this one likes subtropical temperatures and ventures far up rivers, having been found as far north as Minnesota in the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. This fish can grow to 19 inches and 3-3/4 pounds the photo specimen, caught wild off Florida, was 9-1/2 inches and weighed 5 ounces.   Details and Cooking.

Herring Pickled, Canned, Kippered & Dried
Pickled Herring

Herring is an oily fish that preserves well in various ways, and all these ways are exploited. The photo shows two pickled herring fillets from Lithuania, a significant exporter of such seafood treats since the fall of the Soviet Union. Yummm! More on Preserved Herring

Kilka   -   [Tyulka, Kilka (Russ); Black Sea Sprat, Clupeonella cultriventris - Similar: Anchovy Kilka, Anchovy Sprat (fb), Clupeonella engrauliformis and (lesser importance) Bigeye Kilka, Southern Caspian sprat, Clupeonella grimmi]
Whole Kilka

cultriventris is a brackish to fresh water fish native to the Black, Azov and northern Caspian Seas and nearby lakes and rivers, while grimmi and engrauliformis live in central and southern Caspian only. All can grow to just over 5-1/2 inches, engrauliformis a little longer, and are major fish for canning in the region. I have also seen some cans of Latvian Baltic sprats labeled Kilka, but that isn't right. The photo specimen, which was salt pickled, was 5 inches long and weighed 3/4 ounce. The largest in the batch was 6 inches and weighed 1-1/8 ounces.

Caspian stocks have recently dropped 50% due to an American comb jelly named Mnemiopsis leidyi eating all their food and the fishery is now endangered. This also happened to the Black Sea but another American jellyfish named Beroe ovata came allong and ate most of the Mnemiopsis. This solution is likely to be applied in the Caspian. Beroe eats only Mnemiopsis and disappears when they are all eaten.   Details and Cooking

Thread Herring   -   [Pacific Thread Herring; Opisthonema libertate   -   Atlantic Thread Herring; Opisthonema oglinum]
Thread Herring

These fish are named for the last ray of the dorsal fin which reach near the end of the tail. Unfortunately this thread doesn't survive freezing and handling, so there is only a short stub on market fish. The Pacific species is found from San Pedro (Los Angeles) California south to Peru, but is rare on the outer coast of Baja California. The Atlantic species is found from Maine through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to northern Brazil. The Pacific can grow to nearly 12 inches, but the photo specimen, purchased from a Philippine market in Los Angeles, was 10 inches long and weighed 5-1/4 ounces. The Atlantic can grow about an inch longer.   Details and Cooking.

Ilish / Hilsa Shad   -   [Modenn, Palva, Pallu Machhi, Pulasa, Polasa (India); Tenualosa ilisha]
Kelee Shad   -   [Hilsa kelee alt Tenualosa kelee]
Toli Shad   -   [Chinese Herring, Tenualosa toli]
Whole Hilsa Shad

These three fish are all but indistinguishable one from another. They are highly commercial Indo-West Pacific fish found from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea and the Java Sea, these fish can grow to over 23 inches inches (14 inches for kelee) but the Hilsa specimen in the photo was 10 inches and weighed 6 ounces. These shad are marketed fresh and dried and are not considered threatened. Farming Ilish / Hilsa is in the development stages in India (2012 - 2014). This is considered a very desirable fish in West Bengal and Bangladesh, and is the national fish of Bangladesh.   Detais and Cooking

Tunsoy   -   [Genus Sardinella various species and Dussumieria acuta]
Dried Tunsoy

Tunsoy is the Philippine name for various Indo-Pacific herring. The photo specimen, from a package of salted and dried herring obtained from a Philippine market in Los Angeles, was rehydrated by soaking in water for 20 hours (yes it took that long to soften it up). It was 4-3/4 inches long and weighed 0.35 ounce rehydrated. This fish was eviscerated before drying in compliance with California health law.   Details and Cooking.

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