Seattle chefs prepare for Alaska Herring Week

The tasty little fish comprises one of the world’s largest fisheries

Herring harvested in the Togiak fishery will be in the spotlight during Alaska Herring Week 2017 June 19-25, with gourmet chefs creating a variety of appetizers and entrees for the occasion.

Several dozen restaurants and grocers in the Seattle area are teaming up with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to promote the tasty little fish, which can reach 18 inches in length and weigh up to 1.2 pounds, is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and selenium.

Their goal is to increase awareness of herring, its taste, nutritional value and ease of preparation, to increase demand and the value of the fish in the marketplace.

One restaurant has created a cold poached herring appetizer with pickled vegetable, potato salad, olive and petit pepper tapenade, and another will be serving grilled herring with smoked shiitake, asparagus, lobster consommé and scallions.

While there will be no competitive cook-off competition, the creativity the event is inspiring is very exciting, said Bruce Schactler, food aid and development director for ASMI.

“We have eight different James Beard award winners taking part this year,” he said.


North Pacific Seafoods, which has five shore-based production facilities in Alaska, including Togiak and Sitka, is for the second year running donating 5,000 pounds of herring fillets for the event from the Togiak fishery.

“This is still at the promotional level,” Schactler said. “To put a product up in volume, you have to be sure you are going to be selling it.”

The hope is that one year there will be enough people interested in ordering for the following year and then the processors will start producing the fillets for the marketplace as they are harvested, he said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game manages the Togiak herring fishery with a harvest based on a maximum of 15 percent of the spawning biomass. In years when the biomass is at the lower end of the historical biomass, the harvest level will usually be closer to a very conservative 10 percent, to keep the fishery sustainable.

ASMI notes in its online promotion of Alaska Herring Week that the demand for this easy to prepare fish is ubiquitous throughout Northern European. It is, in fact, one of the largest fisheries in the world.

“There are over three million tons of herring eaten around the world,” Schactler said. “The herring fishery in the North Atlantic is bigger than the Bering Sea Pollock fishery. Everybody all over the world eats it.”