By Grace Jones
IN some capacity or another I’ve been fishing since I could walk – my Dad insisting I learn how and making sure I could fend for myself.
Whilst we had a strong tendency to target king george whiting and squid, the occasional herring would make its way into the boat and make its re-entry into the ocean just as quick.
Dad’s rationale was that the little silver darts were too boney, too oily and not worth the hassle of cleaning when there were better fish to catch and eat.
Fremantle author Jacqueline Hagan’s cook book Hooked on Herring, has given me enough reason to pause before I instinctively toss any herring back to where it came from.
Hagan’s lifelong addiction to catching and cooking herring was only encouraged when she married her husband Mark.
When the pair aren’t anchored off Garden Island berleying up the fish, they are travelling the world in search of inspiration for new recipes to bring home and try on the humble herring.
The best of these recipes so far has been compiled in the beautiful hard-cover Hooked on Herring, which is interspersed with Hagan’s own tales of travel. These personal recollections provide an authenticity for the ensuing recipes that is often missing in a lot of cookbooks.
Perhaps the secret of this book is that you may never find yourself knuckles deep in herring guts, but that you’ve read some beautiful snippets about travel in parts of the world we’ve all dreamt of visiting.
The other factor in the appeal of Hooked on Herring is that it strikes a chord with the chorus of cooks who have begun celebrating under-utilised and under-appreciated fish, including the West Australian salmon.
Hagan’s book not only makes you think before baiting-up, but gives you some ideas to start using the herring as a staple food, teaching you how to properly prepare the small fish and giving you a large variety of cuisines to tickle the taste buds.
You’ll find Japanese, French, Mexican and Northern European ways to prepare the average fish, a fine way to mix up your regular fish and chips.
Hooked on Herring is an absolute must to add to the collection for her- ring lovers, or those that love cooking small tablefish, and definitely a cook book to add to the collection for foodies in general.
Hooked on Herring is available at margaretriverpress.com.