The Dutch are crazy about their herring, which is also called ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ (Dutch new herring). They eat the raw fish on a sandwich or simply as a snack with some chopped onions and pickles. It is not just a very tasty snack, but also a very healthy one.
Caught the traditional way
‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ is what the Dutch call the herring that is caught at the same time every year. The fish goes through the same annual cycle: in winter it is too lean, and in spring when there is more plankton in the water it fattens up until it contains at least 16% fat. Fishing boats go out to catch it from May to July. The herring is cleaned and soused (ripened in brine) on board the ship.
In other words, herring can only be called ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ if it has a minimum fat content of 16% and has been cleaned and brined the traditional way. Because in the olden days herring had to be salted in order to preserve it through winter, the fish became saltier and less tasty after a year. As a result the new herring was more than welcome every year so the fishing boats were decorated with little flags on Flag Day (Vlaggetjesdag). This is still a tradition in Holland.