Red Herring with Lovage and Parsley Sauce

Serves: 6
Preparation: You will need to pickle the beetroot a day or two ahead, ideally.
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

    What you need


    • 1 lb 2oz
    • 300 ml/10fl oz/1¼ cups
      white wine vinegar
    • 250 g/9oz/1¼ cups
      caster (superfine) sugar
    • 2
      shallots, peeled and finely sliced
    • 6
      herring, cleaned, boned and butterflied – the fishmonger can do this
    • a bunch of dill, finely chopped – reserve a few fronds to garnish
    • 25 g/1oz
      lovage, leaves only (for the lovage and parsley sauce)
    • 25 g/1oz
      parsley, leaves only (for the lovage and parsley sauce)
    • 1 tbsp
      capers (for the lovage and parsley sauce)
    • 1
      garlic clove, peeled and crushed to a paste (for the lovage and parsley sauce)
    • 100 ml/3½fl oz/7 tbsp
      olive oil (for the lovage and parsley sauce)
    • juice of 1 lemon (for the lovage and parsley sauce)
    • salt and pepper (for the lovage and parsley sauce)


    • 1Put the beetroot in a pan of salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a skewer. Drain and leave to cool. When cool, rub with your thumb to remove the skins. Thinly slice the beetroot.
    • 2Stir the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add the shallots and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, then pour over the beetroot. Add the dill, cover and leave until cool.
    • 3To make the sauce, bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with iced water. Introduce the lovage and parsley to the hot water for no more than 10 seconds, then plunge them straight into the iced water. Leave for a minute or so, until cold, then remove and press out any excess water.
    • 4Blend or finely chop with the capers, garlic and lemon juice, then slowly stir or blend in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
    • 5Drain the beetroot, tipping the pickling juice into a wide saucepan or sauté pan. Bring this to a boil and gently slide in the herring. Reduce the heat and poach for 4–5 minutes.
    • 6Serve the red herring with the pickled beetroot and the lovage and parsley sauce.

    Serving tips

    Pairing suggestion: Martell Cordon Bleu

    “I created this dish one week for my Secret Larder supper club – we had a magician show up to entertain folk, as you do, and I came up with an arguably twee menu of daft magic-related puns. Rabbit in a hat was a great hit, as was this – herring poached in beetroot juice – ta-da! – a red herring. You could use mackerel, or indeed sea bass or similar, if herring is too hard to come by.”

    James Ramsden

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