Recipe Vegan Black Currant Pickled Herring Substitute


26 Aug 2020
Local time
2:23 PM
Vegan Black Currant Pickled Herring Substitute

Serves 4-6 as a snack | Cooking time 3.5-4.5 h (preparation & oven-bake 1.5 h, marinating 2-3 h)

This is a sweet, sour & savory snack or side dish. It resembles pickled herring which is often served with boiled potatoes (among gravlax, roe, aspic, cold-smoked reindeer, cheese and other savory treats) in Finland at Christmas and on Midsummer’s Eve.

Pickled, heavily salted herring, often flavored with honey and herbs, was already known in ancient Rome. The dish became popular in Hamburg during the 9th century and gradually found its way north. Nowadays, Finnish supermarkets sell dozens of varieties of pickled herring and smaller Baltic herring, flavored with onion, vinegar, syrup, herbs, mustard and other spices – even tomatoes – and/or local berries like juniper berries, lingon-/cow-/huckleberries, cranberries and black currants. Especially sweet varieties have a mellow texture and a strong sweet & sour taste which hardly resembles fish. Pickled herring tastes scrumptious with bread, potatoes and eggs, so why not try another vegan version. If you're not ovo vegetarian, you can replace eggs with vegan mayo, tofu or vegan cottage cheese (and perhaps a pinch of seaweed) on your open sandwiches. Black salsify has a starchy, stranded-like structure and is said to resemble oysters in taste, so it’s a perfect option for pickled herring. When black salsify roots are cooking in a salt bed in the oven, there's a delicate marine scent in the air.

500 g/1.1 lb/17.6 oz black salsify (can be substituted with root parsley, daikon, parsnip or white beetroot)​
800 g/1.76 lb/28 oz coarse sea salt​
1 medium-sized onion (or large shallot)​
200 ml/0.85 cup (frozen) black currants​
2-3 tbsp maple syrup​
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar​
0.25 tsp ground black pepper​
0.25 tsp ground allspice​
0.5 tsp dried thyme (or 1.5 tsp fresh leaves)​
0.5 tsp dried oregano (or 1.5 tsp fresh)​
0.5 tsp dill seeds​
0.5 tsp yellow mustard seeds​
a pinch of salt (to taste); genuine pickled herring is rather salty​
fresh dill and lime slices for garnish​


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C /390 F/gas mark 6, no fan.
2. Cleanse the unpeeled salsifies or other root vegetables under running water with a coarse brush.
3. Pat dry the roots and place them into an oven dish filled with salt (salt bed; use half of the salt).
4. Cover the roots with the rest of the salt and place them in the middle part of the oven. Cook/bake for 35-50 minutes until done (the flesh is soft enough for scraping).
5. Let the root vegetables cool slightly, halve them lengthwise and scrape longish pieces of the flesh/inside with a spoon. The skin of smaller roots crumbles easily, so be gentle.
6. Slice the onion thinly.
7. Crush the (semi-thawed) black currants with a hand blender or mixer and mix them with the rest of the marinade ingredients.
8. Layer the vegetable strips with onion slices and small batches of marinade into a small jar or bowl and pour the rest of the marinade on top. Let the ”herring” rest and become spiced in the fridge for 2-3 hours or more, covered with plastic wrap.
9. Wipe the black salsify/root vegetable strips lightly before serving.
10. Serve with potatoes or with boiled eggs or vegan mayo on rye or toast.
11. Garnish with fresh dill and lime slices.

The dish keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days. The pickled/marinated onion can be served as a separate side dish or with the fake herring aka pickled root vegetables.
Last edited:
I adore salsify and this is an ingenious idea. There is a lot going on here and its difficult to imagine how it tastes without actually making and tasting it. The only thing I thought was that salsify is a very subtle taste which could easily be eclipsed.
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