For four weeks beginning late spring herring fanatics saddle up to the counter at Russ & Daughters to drop back a herring that rivals the best sushi. CHOW.com Contributing Editor Pervaiz Shallwani filed the following report.
As spring inches towards summer, herring fanatics like me pack Russ & Daughters to throw back raw, buttery filets that rival any sashimi or oysters. Before you turn up your nose, all herring do not taste the same. These are New Catch Holland herring.
Each spring as the waters around Holland warm, herring begin to fatten themselves, and take on a clean, briny taste that’s nothing like the jarred, pickled, schmaltzed or smoked herring we know. In Holland, it’s a season they look forward to. For four weeks herring is celebrated complete with pairings of aquavit and vodka. This year, that season began June 6.
To seasoned New Yorkers, this fourth generation appetizer shop is where to go for herring, glistening lox, meaty white fish and my personal favorite sandwich the super heebster - a bagel layered with horseradish cream cheese, whitefish and baked salmon salad and crisp wasabi roe.
Fresh herring is available year round at Russ & Daughters, but come this time of year, addicts flood the place. Get the herring to go, or better yet, saddle up to the counter to drop back a herring or two.
Here, the fish arrive from Holland gutted and cleaned, with just two shiny filets dangling from the tail. Fishermen have lightly cured the filets in a small amount of salt though the fish is still considered raw.
The herring comes simply on a piece of wax paper with sweet Vidalia onions and cornichon pickles. Each bite is a mix of sweet, butter and brine. You could get the staff to slice it, but when at Russ, do as the Russ’ do. Just grab the herring by the tale, drag it through the onions and pickles, and open wide.
Russ & Daughters is located at 179 E. Houston St. between Allen and Orchard streets.
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