Smoked Herring (Kipper) with Capers and Onions

Oct 7, 2010 by

You know the ol' "if you were stranded on an island" game, where you have to choose what you'd eat or what you'd read, which CD you'd listen to, or who you'd take with you? The one where you're forced to think deeply, and perhaps a bit pointlessly about the that you'd want with you forever and ever?
Okay, I admit it, I love to play it, especially when hiking long stretches of trail, or waiting for delayed trains, planes, and automobiles. I am usually quite horrible at it though, because when asked, I suddenly forget the name of every musician I love and every book I've ever read. Food though--food I don't forget. I remember thinking long and hard about that one when asked a few years back. I thought about squash soup, dark chocolate, bread warm and fresh from the oven with butter spread on top...mmm...and the list goes on and on. But I finally decided that I'd be willing to live off of wild berries (we were being a bit generous with our categories) and smoked salmon. Yup, basically the diet of an Alaskan Grizzly bear. I mean, I just love smoked salmon (aka lox), don't you? I have been known to buy packages of the stuff and eat every slice in one sitting with my bare hands, dangling the buttery, salty, tender pinkness just at the edge of my lips before eating it slowly, with a ridiculous amount of pleasure (dare I say orgasmic?). But lately I can't help but feel guilty about this succulent treat, because the fact is, salmon fishing is not so great for the planet. Farmed salmon are kept in pens on the edge of the ocean, are fed bad diets, and the excess pollution that comes from the concentration of fish is really harmful for the ocean (much like waste from high-density cattle farms polluting nearby streams and other water sources). Wild-caught salmon is much better for you and the ocean (in fact, Wild Alaskan Salmon is highly recommended by the Environmental Defense Fund, but usually quite pricey). In general though, salmon is also over-fished, resulting in declining salmon populations which is also not so great for the planet (cool article about wild salmon conservation and why it's important here).
Don't eat this Kipper.
So what's a Grizzly bear to do? Well, the real ones can go on eating whatever salmon comes their way, but I...sigh....have started looking for substitutes. But I've got good news, folks. I just discovered my new favorite smoked salmon substitute! Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce you to...Kipper! It's the pickled or cold smoked version of herring, a small fish that the Environment Defense has stated is one of the best for the environment and for your health. Herring, you say? Isn't that a red device used by writers to distract me from something in the story? Why yes! It is. But it also happens to be an actual fish that lives off plankton, which means it consumes much less mercury. While it's not one of the Environmental Defense Fund's top choices, it's considered okay when eaten in moderation. Kipper is not quite considered haute cuisine here in Italy, Guido tells me; he says that the fisherman usually eat them. But then he introduced this lovely and easy way to eat kipper that now comes as close as possible to replacing my beloved lox with capers and onions. So if you're still ready for a kipper adventure (dare I say a caper?) then please, read on.
Kipper with Onions and Capers Servings: Two Ingredients:
  • Good quality bread, whole wheat, spelt, or gluten-free if necessary
  • A package of one or two smoked kippers--splurge on a good quality brand
  • 1/4 of your favorite variety of onion, medium-sized and thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 capers per slice of bread (choose those preserved with salt, not vinegar if you can)
  • G-Spot Ingredient: Good quality olive oil
This is quick and simple. Cut a few slices of good bread and lightly toast them. Break up your smoked kipper and spread along the surface of the bread. Lay out your onion slices and put a few capers on top for extra fun. Add a drizzle of high quality olive oil on top and serve. If you're looking to pair it with wine, white wine pairs beautifully with this. Buon Appetito! Check out the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood recommendations here.

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