Arenque Guisado (Herrings in Tomato Sauce) is a dish that some people love, some hate, there doesn't seem to be a middle point. I am in the love camp.
Smoked herrings is one of those ingredients that, although arrived from faraway lands, seems to be an essential part of our cuisine. It's funny that in the area of the world where it should be best-known I have never found anyone that actually knew it.
As fish is my basic source of protein - since I don't eat meat - my visits to Denmark afford me the opportunity to sample a variety of fish that are not common in the DR. Herring is one of those. Like all fish from the northern seas, herring is a very fatty fish, which makes it very flavorful. Strangely enough, for all the ways I have seen herrings prepared here (more than I can remember) I have never seen it offered in the manner that we Dominicans are used to.
I have seen arenque guisado served any time from breakfast to dinner, so if you are not afraid of strong tastes this is something that will definitely appeal to you.
By the way, some people swear by the aphrodisiac properties of arenque, something I don't feel qualified to comment on.
Arenque Guisado Recipe
- 2 lb [0.91 kg] of smoked , salted herrings (see photo above)
- 1 small red onion , sliced
- 2 peppers cut julienne
- 4 plum tomatoes cut into eights (or 1 doz. cherry peppers halved)
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- Chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
- Soaking herring: Soak herring in a galon [4 lt] of water for half an hour. Remove from the water and discard the water.
- Boil herring: Place herring in a pot with half a gallon [2 lt] of clean water and boil over medium-low heat till it starts flaking (15-20 mins). Remove from the water and cool to room temperature. Discard water.
- Prep herring: Flake the herrings, cleaning from bones and skin. Set aside.
- Cook herring: Heat the oil over medium heat. Cook and stir onion, peppers, and tomatoes until cooked-through (about 5 mins). Stir in herrings, 1/2 cup of water and tomato sauce. Season with salt to taste. Simmer until everything is heated through.
- Serving: Serve hot and garnish with cilantro. My favorite sides are arroz blanco and boiled yuca. Some slices of avocado go great with it too.