I’ve seen this jar and jars like it of fish in X sauce for years, and for years I’ve wanted to try them but, gentle reader, I’ve been afraid, afraid of the gastric consequences of such an action. You see pickled fish “with no preservatives” isn’t something I was raised on. An arctic dweller such as Chrissy Stockton may have been. Likely she was raised on salted white fish and Pilsner from crib to college but, as an Appalachian Mountain dweller, I was not. So, after nearly a decade of passing by these products in the cooler aisle, I’ve pulled the trigger. In doing so, it was my hope that I’d conquer my fear of things like fish in jars. With any luck, pig and chicken feet will be next. Then I’ll be unstoppable.
But before I begin the review, let’s get a good look at this Herring in Wine Sauce outside of its natural jar habitat.
Indeed! It is actual fish in a jar with pickled onions and pepper corns.
1. Appearance and Ingredients
The jar looks like any jar you might find (hopefully not on the street). There’s a picture of the aforementioned jar above if you’ve already forgotten. The print is professional looking as if it was printed with a printer. It’s likely not hand drawn. This particular Herring in Wine Sauce is, I kid you not, distributed by Acme Smoked Fish Corporation out of Brooklyn, NY (acmesmokedfish.com). They’re on Gem Street.
Out of the jar it looks far more like fish than I expected it to and instead of a grayish collapsing mess I was heartened to find that the fish came out of the jar in whole pieces, not flakes and bits. But the onions…I’m afraid of these onions.
Firm, seriously, and very slightly rubbery which is to be expected. Everything pickled is a bit rubbery. You ever had a pickle? It has a firm bite as well. Not firm on the outside and squishy on the inside. Firm all the way through. Surprising. Is all pickled fish this way or is this just some exceptional Herring in White Wine Sauce?
Um, good. It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before except for the fish I’ve had. It’s like the fish I’ve had mixed with nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It has tons/TONS of sodium in it as a preservative (even though it says ‘no preservatives’) because otherwise it would rot no matter how cold your fridge was. It has 470mg of sodium per serving and a serving is five pieces which I should have read before I started eating this. I’ve eaten 12 pieces because, seriously, this is good stuff.
The two most prominent flavors are the fish, which tastes like good fish, not something gross, and a kind of sweet vinegar which is strange at first but grew on me after the third piece. I bit into a peppercorn with one mouthful and the burst of pepper was pretty great.
Overall impression? It has a dainty flavor wrapped in a bold pickled taste. Odd? Yeah, I know.
Without objection I recommend this. Sadly I had no pilsner to drink with it and, in retrospect, I feel the experience was the poorer for that lack. Pale Ale is a poor substitute for a true Pilsner in this case.
I bought this jar at Whole Foods and I think it was around $6. It wasn’t expensive and it was the most expensive pickled fish they had. I recommend trying it at least once before you die. It would go well with, as I said, Pilsner, and get yourself some great bratwurst as well with a real dijon mustard.
One thing I don’t recommend? Do not eat more than twice the recommended serving size all to yourself. While Herring in Wine Sauce is a good source of protein, has no trans fat, is gluten free, and has a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids, it’s also got a lot of salt in it. That much salt on your belly all at once will make it hurt and it will make you thirsty.
Treat this like prescription meds that you wouldn’t crush. 5 pieces per serving or suffer the slight bellyache consequences. Follow the directions. Oh, and avoid the onions, they’re sugary sweet with vinegar and it’s just too much.