Herring with Crispy Oatmeal

Herring with Crispy Oatmeal and Mustard Sauce

For the mustard sauce (makes 600ml/1 pint):

  • 600 ml (1 pint) milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 blade of mace
  • ½ raw onion
  • 40g (1½oz) butter
  • 30g (1oz) flour
  • 2-3 x 15ml spoon (2-3 tablespoons) wholegrain or Dijon mustard
  • 3 x 15ml spoon (3 tablespoons) chopped fresh parsley
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and black pepper

For the herring:

  • 8 x 70g (2½oz) herrings fillets, halved
  • 115g (4oz) medium or pinhead oatmeal (NOT porridge oats!)
  • maldon salt and black pepper
  • a little milk
  • sunflower oil, for frying


  1. To make the mustard sauce: heat the milk until just under boiling point with the bay leaves, blade of mace and the raw onion. Leave to infuse for 20 minutes then strain.
  2. Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan. Add the flour and, using a wooden spoon, stir over the heat for about 2-3 minutes, until it turns a sandy brown colour. Take off the heat and using a wire whisk, whisk in the milk all in one go. Make sure it is well blended.
  3. Stir in the mustard and parsley, taste and season with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover the surface with cling film and keep warm.
  4. Season the oatmeal.  Dip the herring in a little milk then dip the fish in the oatmeal to coat both sides. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the fish skin-side uppermost, turning once until lightly browned and crisp on each side - about 5 minutes in all. Serve immediately with the mustard sauce and some crumbly boiled potatoes with plenty of chopped parsley.