Finnish Christmas recipes – Riitta’s herring

Although most of the cured herrings served at the Christmas table come essentially ready to serve, one can also buy whole fillets of herrings preserved in salt and sugar that can be further prepared in various ways. These strongly flavoured fillets are the basis of many dishes, and here I provide the recipe for the preparation Riitta and I made this year. As with many such recipes, quantities are not strict. This recipe calls for soured cream, which is readily available here and convenient as we use it in several other Christmas recipes. Smetana would be more commonly used in Finland. Use either, or, indeed, crème fraîche, according to preference.

The herrings might be a little difficult to find in this country, unless one has Finnish connections, although a certain well known Swedish store often has something suitable.

The selection of herrings and cured and smoked fish on our Christmas table this year; top-left for this recipe


  • 200g matjessillifile (herring fillets preserved with salt and sugar)
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g mayonnaise
  • 100g soured cream
  • Black pepper


Hard boil the eggs. Transfer to a bowl of cold water to cool.

Chop the herrings into small pieces and place in a bowl. Finely slice the shallots and crush the garlic, and add to the herrings.

Peel the boiled eggs, finely chop, and add to the herrings.

Stir in the mayonnaise and soured cream and season to taste with black pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours for the flavour to develop.

Categorised as Recipes

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