[Sca-cooks] kippering

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Jun 22 03:01:15 PDT 2009

Again, my apologies for the previous blank reply...

On Jun 22, 2009, at 1:49 AM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Okay, For once I can find where I read this. From the same book I  
> mentioned, "Fish on Friday, Feasting, Fasting and the Discovery of  
> the New World", p 47, 48.
> The footnote on p 47:
> "A note on herring terminology for uninitiated readers: the kipper  
> is lightly salted then smoked, the word coming from "kippering", a  
> 1326 verb that means "to cure a fish by cleaning, salting and  
> spicing it" Kippers and bloaters were associated with Yarmouth,  
> England, but were produced all along the eastern English coast,  
> especailly in Northumberland, where the kippering process was  
> invented in the 1840s."
> On page 48:
> "John Woodger of Seahouses in Northumberland invented the kippering  
> process in the 1840s. A relatively mild cure, it was ideal in an era  
> when rail transportation wafted herrings from smoker to kitchen in a  
> few hours.  Such light preservation would have been unthinkable in  
> earlier times,, when fish took days, even weeks or months to reach  
> their destination. The waters of the Baltic, English Channel, and  
> the North Sea teemed with aquatic life, but the catch couldn't  
> travel. Only a few kilometers inland, a fresh catch would being to  
> smell, leaving the seller with no option but to throw it away. So  
> sea fish had inseperable partners p drying racks, salt and the  
> smokehouse.
> Breakfast kippers are fat herrings, salted and smoked lightly to  
> preserve their delicate flavor and texture. There's a world of  
> difference between the salting and smoking that create fine food and  
> the heavy salting that preserves it, as in medieval times, when  
> shelf life was the primary consideration and people ate fish  
> intensively at certain times of the year. By the twelth century, the  
> devout who dined on fish during Lent almost invariably consumed a  
> dried, salted or smoked catch."

The operative term here is probably "relatively mild". There are  
herring salted and smoked until they resemble planks of mahagony, and  
kippers aren't.

On the other hand, anyone, including the author of the quoted text,  
could easily compare them to raw fish for flavor and simple  
refrigerated shelf life, or try eating an unsoaked, raw, kippered  
herring, before suggesting the kippering process, as used, changes  
only the flavor, and that only slightly.

Which, mind you, I don't think the author is doing. But the difference  
between a fresh herring and a freshly kippered herring (when not the  
canned critters, they usually come refrigerated and sealed in some  
form of cryovac plastic, in my own experience) is somewhat akin to the  
difference between a fresh pork chop and Smithfield Ham. You can throw  
both in a frying pan as is, cook and eat them, but a soak in water for  
a while helps make the ham and the kipper more palatable for most  


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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