Ingredients for 4 people:2 smoked herring fillets1 glass milk1 glass water½ red onion2 tbsp capers4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Soak the herring fillets in the water and milk for 2 hours. Now rinse them under running water, pat them dry with kitchen paper and, using a sharp knife, firstly cut them into strips and then into pieces. Transfer them into a bowl with the capers and the onion, which you have cleaned, washed (soaked in cold water for half an hour to make the flavour – and aroma! – less strong) and chopped into small pieces. Pour in the olive oil and stir thoroughly. And there you have it – a tasty appetizer that you can serve accompanied by slices of toasted, homemade bread.
The story of the herring is part of our tradition; it arrived in the houses of farming families as a food that was full of protein and long-lasting, similar to tuna and anchovies, but less expensive and more convenient. It could be bought at the market, often to be bartered (similarly to sugar and salt) with seasonable produce. But the families of days gone by were extremely numerous, how could they feed 15-18 people with one herring? Giancarlo, the curator of the Fattoria’s Museum of Old Farming Traditions, says that some used to eat the head and others the tail; his grandmother, to try and satisfy everyone, would hang the herring above the table and rub it between two slices of bread – the aroma had to suffice! – then add a drop of oil and off to work in the fields!