Strange but herring has never been present in my Christmas - neither in my childhood nor in adult life. Why strange? Because every year I can see in shops people buying large amounts of salted herring - whole and fillets - straight from barrels or buckets. Yes, herring is tasty, but contains too many fishbones and as such is useless to me unless it is pickled. However, pickled fish doesn`t suit Christmas Eve supper in my opinion.
Recipes vary from simple ones to very sophisticated.
I like herring. To be honest it's eaten more in Polish cuisine than in English. I am used to seeing it as in the third picture down, in a salad. Not something I would think about serving at Christmas time, but the whole fish thing at Christmas is strange to me. I've never had carp at Wigilia for example.
I've heard tales of carp in the bathtub but not sure if that really occurs or not. The friends at which I've spent many a Wigilia normally make ryba po grecku with cod ( dorsz ). I've had one Wigilia in Poland and I honestly don't remember what type of fish we had, but I know it wasn't carp or herring!
That poor fish. Chucked in a bucket before meeting it's terrible fate! Wouldn't it just be easier to buy it from a fishmonger? After all, it must be in demand at that time of year.
Yes, poor fish, that is why I gave up such practices a few years ago. But the tradition had held strong. Why?
Fish kept in bath was a traditional way, decades old, to have a sure carp supply for Christmas a few days ahead instead of counting on unpredictable shops and sellers on the last days before the holiday. A few years ago, I talked about it in Christmas customs thread, I wasn`t able to buy carp before Chistmas, it had been sold out, so we used other fish.
Fish kept in bath was a traditional way, decades old, to have a sure carp supply for Christmas a few days ahead instead of counting on unpredictable shops and sellers on the last days before the holiday.
Aha! Now I understand better. What types of fish are used as substitutes if carp isn't available?