It is a truth universally acknowledged that food can win a way to someone’s heart. I fell in love with my mother-in-law for many reasons, but her herring salad completely stole my heart and made my taste buds hungry for more.

The herring salad was the queen of all celebrations. Be it Christmas or Easter, birthday or nameday – I would be happy to invent more occasions only to see Wiesia proudly putting the big bowl of her signature salad on the table. And in fact, because my mother-in-law was a woman of extraordinary kindness and warmth, she started to make the salad just because she knew I was coming over. She would spoil me rotten. I remember Wiesia and Bogdan coming to visit us and always bringing a hefty jar of salad  – big enough to share so that myself and Maciek do not have to fight over it.

1. Wiesia in spring 1962  2. Family gathering in 1980 3. Family get-together in 2003

I only started to try to recreate the herring salad when she passed away two years ago. Somehow, when I chop the crunchy apples and slice the mini gherkins I see her smiling face and hear her gentle laugh. And then I proudly take the bowl full of herring goodness to the table wondering if she would like it and imagining she was sitting around with us. I give her all the credits for the recipe and take all the blame for any imperfections, hoping to improve time after time.

herring-saladHerring Salad – by my mother-in-law Wiesia

8 – 10 fillets of soused herring

2 apples

2 onions

2 hard boiled eggs

6 – 8 cornichons (mini-gherkins)

a can of haricot beans

200 g creme fraiche or sour cream

salt and pepper to season

1 tsp of lemon juice (optional)

1 tsp of cider vinegar (optional)


Soak the herring in cold water for at least 2 hours or overnight – depending how long it takes to get rid of the saltiness. When you ready to make the salad, remove from the water and dry on a paper towel. Chop into 2 cm x 2 cm chunks and place in the salad bowl.

Put the kettle on and boil a cup of water. In the meantime finely slice the onions. Steep the onions for 3-5 minutes. Then remove from the water, dry on  a paper towel and place in the bowl.

Peel the apples and chop into matchsticks.

Slice the cornichons into matchsticks.

Slice the eggs vertically.

Dry the haricot beans and add to all other ingredients.

Add the cream and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice and / or cider vinegar if using.

Leave in the fridge for a few hours as it only gains flavour.

Shortcut Tip:

When in a hurry or simply to greedy to wait, I sometimes get a good quality ready-made herrings in cream sauce and make the salad right away.


The salad will last in the fridge for two days. Possibly more, but in fairness I would not have a clue as no matter what quantities I make it is always gone in a day.

This week I will serve it with some homemade bread.

Hope you will enjoy it too.



2 thoughts on “Herring-in-love

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