Yesterday I went out looking for herring in order to follow the souring recipe I wrote about earlier.
The fish-counter man at Fairway 131st St. had never heard of herring and tried to interest me in bacalao.
I escaped and made my way down to Citarella, where they really know fish. No, they've had no herring in a long time. But I bought some fresh mackerel filets and tried them instead. I was surprised that the souring time is only a day — I'm used to living with the noxious vapors of souring cabbage for a week or more (I use kimchee ingredients but regular green cabbage instead of bokchoy, and I prefer habanero peppers, which do not waste time making food redder than it is hot). For the record, I used a red onion, fennel, and lots of dill.
Tonight it was ready. My wife, who does not believe in the existence of pickled fish, made a face and said, "今天家裡一直聞到一股臭味，不知道是什麼，我以為是老鼠尿。" [There was a bad smell at home all day. I didn't know what it was; I thought it was mouse urine.] I don't think it smells anything like mouse urine. But she got well out of the way as I went to work transferring the fish to small containers for the refrigerator.
It's pretty good. It's not at all salty — in fact, I think I'll add a little salt to the remainder I put in the refrigerator. The flesh itself is superb. The skin is a little tougher than I'm used to with commercial soured herring, so the eating experience is somewhat new to me. But this is much, much tastier than commercial soured herring — much milder, and the fish is really wonderful.