Matjes, pickled white Herring, Ingredient, Shopping tips, Recipes

Tender, young herring – mildly salted and matured. We know the traditional fish delicacy mostly pickled in oil or prepared housewife-style. The fish tastes best fresh from the barrel.

This article provides information about maties. Here you will learn what you always wanted to know and many tips for buying and preparing it in the kitchen.

1. Matjes, pickled white Herring definition and season

Matjes is a young herring. The fish are caught in the months of May, June and July. Afterwards, the fish is gutted and salted. Salting the fish in brine allows it to mature whole without spoiling.

Herring “throats”: The gills and the innards are removed – only the pancreas remains in the fish. In traditional production, the natural enzymes contained in the pancreas ensure natural maturation in the brine and dry salt. This herring is the best!

Recommends Chef Thomas Sixt

2. How matjes, pickled white Herring gets from the barrel to the plate

Marinating the fish in brine preserves it and the fish meat matures into tender and creamy matjes. The bones can be easily removed afterwards:

The barrel-pickled herring fresh from the shop. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer
The bones can be removed quite easily. Filleting with a knife is one variant, I saw how to pull out the bones at the fish market and tried it out myself in the kitchen straight away.
The matjes without bones on the board, you would remove the skin in the next step, I leave it on the fillet for now.
The bones go in the waste, take a nice photo first!
The fish is also called “the silver of the seas”. Here the fillet without bones with tail fin photographed from the skin side.
I soaked the fresh matie in oil so that I could take photos for two more days.

Filleting maties yourself is a time-consuming task. It is best to buy the fish prepared!

Recommends Chef Thomas Sixt to save time!

3. Popular Matjes flavours

In addition to the traditional method, today the fish is refined and refined in many ways. This gives us a variety of flavours and allows us to prepare the delicate fish in many different ways:

Smoked Matjes has a light and pleasant aroma and goes excellently with fried potatoes.
Original Glückstädter Matjes g.g.A. is an ingredient for star cuisine and the first choice when shopping.
The Glückstadt red wine fillets provide moments of happiness.
The particularly tender herring fillet “Mediterranean” pickled with southern herbs and vegetables even harmonises with figs.

The different matjes preparations allow an infinite number of variations. Matjes with fig tastes, who would have guessed?

Says chef Thomas Sixt

4. Buying pickled white Herring, tip from a chef

The traditional matjes festivals take place in various towns along the coast at the end of May or beginning of June and remind us of the start of the matje season.

4.1 Glückstädter Matjes

Glückstadt in Schleswig-Holstein has a very long herring tradition and the Glückstädter Matjeswochen have been celebrated here for over 50 years. Since 2015, the name “Glücksräder Matjes” has been included in the EU quality register and thus bears the seal protected geographical indication (PGI).

Top pickled white Herring comes from Glückstadt

Shopping Tip from Chef Thomas Sixt

4.2 Trading forms of Matjes or pickled white Herring in Germany

In Germany, there are four forms of trade for “Matjes”:

Matjes and matjes herring

This is the commercial designation for matjes traditionally matured with natural enzymes. Short freezing at -45°C and subsequent further processing to increase food safety is permitted within this designation.

Matjes fillets Nordic style

The fish is matured here by adding sugar, salt, spices and acidifiers and is additionally preserved by pickling in oil.

Herring Matjes style

This is the sexually mature herring, which is processed “Matjes-style”.

Herring that is not processed traditionally but by:

  • Enzymes foreign to fish
  • sugars
  • Other products of starch saccharification
  • Table salt
  • with spices
  • with saltpetre

…organically matured and otherwise “tastily” refined must be labelled on the German market as “Matjesfilet …” with an additional reference to the maturing process, e.g. Swedish style, Nordic style, or a similar reference.

5. Frequently asked questions about Matjes and pickled white Herring

What is special about Dutch Matjes?

Dutch Matjes TSG is a traditional speciality guaranteed. It is herring caught in the months of May-August that is at least three years old and has been preserved in brine or in dry salt after it has been thinned or decapitated. Before traditional production, the fish is deep-frozen at -45°C to kill parasites such as threadworms.

Where the name Matjes comes from

According to legend, the name “Matjes” comes from the Dutch word for “girl” – “Meisjes”. Matjes is the name for “virgin herring”. These young fish have not yet formed milk or roe, but have already gained a high fat content for reproduction.

How many calories does matjes, pickled white Herring contain?

100 g Matjes contain approx. 265 kcal (kilocalories) this corresponds to approx. 1100 kj (kilojoules)

Is pickled white Herring healthy?

The valuable omega-3 fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fatty acids are abundant in the fish. Matjes has a fat content of approx. 12 to 28 percent, depending on the origin. In addition, the fish provides numerous vitamins such as A, D, E, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, minerals and trace elements such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. Fish contains a balanced amount of vitamin D: 25 µg of vitamin D per 100 g of fish. Among other things, this vitamin regulates the calcium and phosphorus balance and thus the formation of bone substance. The recommended daily dose is 20 µg, which corresponds to an amount of approx. 80 g of matie.

How long can Matjes be kept in the kitchen?

The following applies to cooking: Always enjoy the fish within the expiry date and keep it cool at all times. Unlike canned fish, pickled fish has a limited shelf life and should therefore be eaten quickly.

Do you have to water Matjes?

You can only answer this question yourself. Taste the herring in the kitchen and check the salt content. You don’t need to soak Glückstädter Matjes, but for other herring specialities the taste test will help. Is the fish too salty? Simply soak it in cold water for 10 minutes and then check the taste. Then continue processing.

What to consider with Herring and onions

It is advisable to either serve the onions freshly sliced or to marinate the onions with sugar and vinegar. Vinegar and sugar preserve the onions for a short time and the preparation then tastes fresh and does not ferment.

6. Matjes Recipes ideas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Author: Thomas Sixt

Hi, I am a German Chef, Cookbook Author and Food Photographer. The imparting of cooking knowledge is my great passion. Everyone can cook for himself and with this website I would like to contribute to its success. Let yourself be inspired and enjoy good food. If you have any cooking questions, please use the comment function at the end of each article and recipe. I wish Thomas Sixt Good Luck!