Herring in Oil {Śledź w Oleju}

I grew up in North-Western corner of Poland, in a city of about 400,000 people called Szczecin. Because of the location and access to fresh fish we ate a lot of it. As a matter of fact, Szczecin-ians are called paprykarze (which is a dish of fish, mixed vegetables and rice, recipe here) by the rest of the country, because the amount of fish we eat. 

In my home, we ate fish almost every Friday. The standard was: fried fish filet, boiled potatoes garnished with dill and sauerkraut slaw. Those 3 things go together (for Poles) like eggs, bacon and hash browns or peanut butter and jelly for Americans. A highlight of every trip to the sea-side was fish, french fries and sauerkraut slaw. Sea side towns are lined with fish shops on every corner, providing a lot of options to visitors from all over Poland and from Europe.

More “adult” flavor that I’m presenting today is herring in oil with onions. This dish is quite popular at dinner parties, holidays or other family gatherings, as it provides a solid base for a night of fun, if you know what I mean. 😉🍻

Herring does have a pretty robust flavor, even for pretty die-heart fish lovers, but in this case, paired with a fragrant onion, it becomes milder and quite palatable. I can’t not eat it, when it’s served. Even my daughter, when she was about 5 or 6, to the surprise of our guests, enjoyed it a lot when I served it at New Year’s Eve party at out house. That got some of the non-adventurous eaters convinced to try a piece, and surprise themselves with the peculiar taste of the dish.

 There are many variations of this dish, but I’m starting with the basics. We can venture to more complicated recipes after we’ve mastered and enjoy this one. 

Polish Herring in Oil {Śledź w Oleju}

  • Prep Time: 10 min


  • 8-9 oz of
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil (I like canola)
  • 1/4 tsp of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of ground pepper, freshly ground if possible
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley


  1. Drain herring and set on paper towels to dry a bit.

  2. Cut onion in half and slice thinly. Place in a bowl.

  3. Add oil, sugar, pepper and chopped parsley.

  4. Slice herring at an angle into about 1 inch strips. Add to bowl.

  5. Mix and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


Serve with hearty rye bread. Store in the fridge for a couple of weeks, if needed.

Are you willing to try this? Or maybe you’ve had this before? Let me know what you think.



  • every respecting Polish deli/grocery will carry herring fillets in oil. They are called Filety a la Matias and they are preserved in salt and packaged in oil. If you don’t have access to a Polish deli, you can purchase them here. An unopened package will last in the fridge for moths. If you don’t use both packages right away, they will be fine for a long time. Here are a recipe for another dish you can prepare with them: śledź w śmietanie. I will be posting more soon.