Cider vinegar and orange rollmops
Some commercial rollmops are pickled in brutally acidic distilled vinegar, which obliterates their oily succulence and flavour. It's immensely satisfying to make your own – this brine mixture is the one we use at River Cottage, though experiment with the aromatics to create a blend that is your own. Makes three 500ml jars.
6 large, fresh herrings, descaled, gutted and filleted60g salt
For the marinade
500ml cider vinegar250ml cider12 allspice berries12 black peppercorns6 bay leaves1 tbsp light brown sugar1 tsp mustard seedsZest of 1 large orange, pared into wide strips with no white pith1 small onion (red or white), very thinly sliced
Check the herring fillets for any pin bones and remove as necessary. Dissolve the salt in 500ml cold water to make a brine, then add the fillets. Leave for two to three hours.
Meanwhile, make the marinade. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring slowly to a boil and simmer for a minute. Set aside to cool.
Drain the herring fillets from the brine and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Roll them up, skin side out, from tail end to head end, and pack the rolls into three sterilised 500ml preserving jars. Pour the marinade over the herrings, making sure you get some of the spices and zest in each jar, then seal.
Store in the fridge for at least three days before eating. They're best eaten five to 10 days from jarring, but will keep for up to a month. The longer you leave them, the softer and more pickled they'll get.
To serve, drain the fillets from their marinade and accompany with a little soured cream and slices of rye bread or country-style bread.