Holland Herring Have Arrived at Russ & Daughters

A happy customer demonstrates how to eat a Holland herring. They're best consumed in the company of understanding friends.
A happy customer demonstrates how to eat a Holland herring. They're best consumed in the company of understanding friends.

The nieuwe maatjes season has officially begun: As of this morning, the aquatic delicacies, otherwise known as New Catch Holland herring, are available at Russ & Daughters.

A herring lies in repose on the Russ & Daughters counter.
A herring lies in repose on the Russ & Daughters counter.

The raw, barely cured little fish reach their optimum, fatty peak in June, which marks both the beginning and end of the Hollandse Nieuwe season. It's celebrated in Holland as a national holiday, complete with a ritual first tasting by the queen. Procured from the waters of the North Sea, the New Catch herring are imported directly from Holland by Russ & Daughters, where they're available for the next few weeks.

At Russ, you can order the herring ($4.94 each) at the counter and eat the them the traditional way, which is coated with chopped raw onions, held aloft by the tail, and lowered into the mouth. Each silvery fish is comprised of two plump fillets that are joined at the tail, and boast a rich, almost buttery texture. Perhaps as a result of their high omega-3 content, consuming the herring is akin to doing a shot of wheatgrass juice: They produce the same immediate salutary high and discernible mental clarity. Most importantly, they're also delicious.

Russ will celebrate the season with a herring pairing at the Astor Center next week, complete with the culinary contributions of Wylie Dufresne and musical accompaniment from John Zorn. Unfortunately, it's sold out, but fortunately, the herring supply behind Russ's counter shows no signs of abating -- at least for the next three weeks or so.

Russ & Daughters 179 Houston Street 212-475-4880

Breakfast of champions.
Breakfast of champions.

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