May 5 is the day of the fish sandwich. Our author knows: It all depends on the ingredients, well cooked, raw and deboned, in a vinegar-salt bath.
Fish roll with Bismarck herring. Photo: imago/images/Figge
It’s not kale or cod that Baltic Sea tourism experts consider the region’s culinary highlight: no, they’ve declared today, May 5, "Fish Roll Day." A rehabilitation of honor, which was long overdue. Just like this confession, the declaration of a deep, long-standing affection.
It was awakened long ago between bumper cars, hall of mirrors and shooting gallery, and accordingly it will forever be associated with the memory of the smell of roasted almonds and the sight of loose rivets dissolving in a puddle. The carnival is the real home of the fish sandwich.
The structure and composition of a classic fish roll are well thought out and strictly defined: roll, onions, Bismarck herring. The roll, cut diagonally from the top, forms a pocket in which the herring and a few onion rings are placed. And on the sides it laps limply down. Nothing else. Butter is not allowed, no cucumber, no paprika. Onion, bread, fish – food in biblical dimensions.
Of course – Siebeck is not said to have lived in vain – it depends entirely on the quality of the individual ingredients. The bread roll, not quite crisp, but not from the day before either, should already be slightly soaked in the juice of the herring, the onion fresh, not too thickly sliced, of the mild rather than the spicy variety. And then the herring.
Butter is not allowed, no cucumber, no paprika. Onion, bread, fish – food in biblical dimensions.
The whole thing stands and falls with the herring. The Bismarck herring, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. von Bismarck, although he was thus memorialized by name in the popular memory, quite unjustly, by the way, the fine Mr. socialist eater preferred the noble fish but always the ostentatious oyster, 175 pieces of it once in a row – the Bismarck herring thus: Six days he had cooked, raw and deboned, in a spicy vinegar-salt bath. Then it had sunk into a fine marinade enriched with sugar and spices. And now it lies there: ripe, bright, white-gray in flesh, juicy-tender. And of that fine taste of soured fish, which the connoisseur still loves to smell on his fingers after hours.
The latter, by the way, is a traditionalist and does not want to be bothered with fashionable "variations". He knows: every fish in its own time. The rollmops together with slippery cucumber conclude the alcoholic excess. Served on silver and eaten with reverence be the matje, precious "delicacy of the poor"! Neither belongs in rolls – not to mention salmon, crabs and schiller curls, nouveau riche knickknacks that merely testify to the culinary incompetence of the eaters.