Among the many different kinds of fish available in Sweden, herring has traditionally held a special position, so that Swedes always differentiate between sill and fisk or herring and fish. Various Methods or flavors of herring sauces are a must at the Swedish smörgåsbord, whether it is the Julbord, or a midsummer buffet. Traditionally, Swedes prepare their own herring, pickling it with sugar and ättiksprit (Swedish spirit vinegar). However, I normally buy the commercially produced jars and cans; as it saves time and the flavor is just as good as or better than homemade (I never thought I would say this).
The most common types to have at a table are:
• Pickled herring (Inlagd sill): Flavored with red onion, allspice, and bay leaf.
• Glassblower’s herring (Glasmästarsill): Flavored with bay leaf, allspice, carrot slices, leek, and yellow onion.
• Spice herring (Kryddsill): Flavored with bay leaves, crushed white peppercorns, and crushed allspice corns.
• Matjes herring (Matjessill): Commonly served cut in one inch pieces; serve with sour cream and chopped chives on the side.
• Senap sill (Mustard herring): Pickled in a creamy mustard sauce.
Photo by stu_spivack