It’s Herring Season!

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The Pacific herring season opened in California on January 2nd, and we are thrilled to be able to provide you with a share of fresh local herring this week. The fishery is focused in San Francisco Bay, and is the only commercial fishery still operating within the boundaries of a major city in the United States – that’s something we want to support! It’s a short season, closing in March, and we want to get you some while the harvest is in full swing. Anthony Mirkovich, this week’s fisherman, started fishing when he was 12 years old. As the herring fishery only lasts a couple months, Anthony also helps out on a crab boat and fishes salmon in Alaska in the summer. Below is a photo of Anthony with a salmon – this guy loves his fish!

For many years the value of our local herring has been almost entirely from their roe, which is exported to Japan where it is called kazunoko. Growing interest in local seafood is helping to develop a local market for the rest of the fish, which are beautiful, firm, and meaty, with rich oily flesh. Pacific herring are delicious grilled or fried, and we think you’ll find the flavor to be clean and delicate. As an added bonus, herring are low in mercury and PCBs and very high in Omega-3s. We’ve prepared all sorts of interesting articles, resources, and videos for you on this exciting local treat – see all the links below. Each cooler will also have a couple bags of kazunoko available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Caught by: Anthony Mirkovich of the F/V Masterpiece, a 32′ bow-picker, designed just for herring
Date landed: Friday 1/11 (the fishery is closed over the weekend)
Landed in: San Francisco
Headed/gutted and bagged: Sunday 1/13 and Monday 1/14 by Greg
Coolers packed: Tuesday by Oren and Alan
Fillets shares vs. Whole fish shares: Cleaning herring is not the easiest thing to do, so we are heading and gutting the fish for all members.
fillet preference: headed and gutted herring
whole fish preference: headed and gutted herring
What to take:
small shares: 1 bag
family shares: 2 bags
Eat by: Wednesday or Thursday

about Pacific herring:
-Our Pacific herring species profile
-Here’s an article from this Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle on the major herring spawn that’s been seen recently in SF Bay
-Herring are found offshore CA during the spring and summer, and adults migrate inshore to bays and estuaries to spawn between October and April. Schools first appear in the deep water channels of bays, and then move into shallow, calm, protected areas to spawn. Spawning-substrate such as marine vegetation or rocky intertidal areas are preferred but man-made structures such as pier pilings and riprap are also frequently used spawning substrates in San Francisco Bay.

about Pacific herring fishing:
-Pacific herring are caught with small gillnets that are used to surround the spawning school. Click here to learn more about pros and cons of this fishing method. Used within San Francisco Bay, gillnets used in the herring fishery are not a large risk to sensitive species.
-Here’s a fact sheet from the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife on the specifications for this year’s very short herring season.
-This KQED video has great imagery and information the herring fishery in San Francisco starting after time 2:00.
-Your demand for local seafood is developing a local market for herring - read more here.
-Here’s a video of herring fisherman Ernie Koepf unloading herring right off the SF Embarcadero!

about Pacific herring preparation:
-Delicious Pacific herring recipes on the LCMB website. Your herring will have bones in it, but they are soft and more easily removed after cooking. Or, eat the bones!
-If you get some of the kazunoko, we have heard that curing it overnight in a 3% kosher salt brine solution is the way to go before eating. If you want to preserve it, store it afterward in a highly concentrated brine solution.
-Here’s some member discussion about the herring we delivered in January 2012 – one family’s kids thought the fried herring backbones tasted like “popcorn” – maybe your kids will think so too?
-LCMB cooking demonstration video: Alan shows you how to make Fried Scottish Herring with Oats
-LCMB cooking demonstration video: Making pickled herring
-This article discusses San Francisco chefs’ enthusiasm for having fresh local herring on their menus in 2012
-Please share your herring experience on our Facebook page or on the “Pacific Herring” section of our Member’s Forum.

Oren and Alan

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