The Herring lovers' cake

The most popular kind of herring for Midsummer is the Matjes herring and over 1,500 tons will be served this weekend. 

  • A festive Matjes herring cake next to the gravad salmon at the midsummer table.
  • It’s Midsummer and this is the time of year when most Swedes enjoy a meal of herring, boiled (preferably new) potatoes, sour cream and chives, and crisp bread with cheese. Most of the time this is accompanied by beer and a short shot glass of aquavit, a nubbe or snaps. In total over 1,500 tons of herring will be served during Midsummer
    Matjes* herring and all the complementary ingredients for herring are included in this easy-to-make cake. Subscriber Anita Gellella made it for a recent Vasa celebration in Connecticut, and while it may seem a bit odd at first even for herring aficionados, what it may lack in looks it makes up for in taste. Anita used a soft pumpernickel variety for the bread layers, which was perfect for the cake. Whatever you do, choose bread that's dark and not too sweet. The preparation is similar to the smörgåstårta you read about on another page, and the bread can be any shape: rectangular, round or square.

  • Matjes herring, most popular kind of herring for Midsummer is often served with sour cream, chives, potatoes and a hard boiled egg—the right food for the longest day of the year. Photo: Fluff Wikimedia/Commons
  • Sillvännernas tårta (The Herring lovers' cake)
    makes 8-10 servings

  • Matjes cake bites - a serving-sized herring appetizer.
  • Filling
    1 can of matjes herring
    4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
    2 tablespoons Kalles caviar
    1 small red onion, finely chopped
    3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
    3 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
    a little less than 3/4 cup (1-1/2 dl) sour cream
    1/4 cup (1/2 dl) mayo

  • Nordstjernan offers features, columns and reports from current and future events of Sweden in the United States (Sweden or, of relevance to Swedish Americans and Swedes in the U.S.) <a href="" target="_blank">Subscribe to Nordstjernan</a> and Make Life Sweder! Above: View of Stockholm's Old Town (Gamla Stan) and the Royal Palace... Photo: Christer Lundin/Sockholm Visitors Board.
  • Garnish
    1 can of matjes herring, cut into small pieces
    2-3 hard boiled eggs
    Finely chopped chives

  • Instruction:
    - Cut the herring into small pieces and mix with eggs, onion, caviar, parsley and dill along with the sour cream and mayo.
    - Taste and add ingredients to taste.
    - Put the filling between slices of bread to create 4 or 5 layers - with no filling on the top layer.
    - Garnish with the remaining can of herring, eggs and chives.

  • If you’d like to play it safer, here’s a serving-sized herring appetizer recipe.

  • Matjes cake bites
    serves 8

  • 4 large matjes herring fillets
    4 ounces potatoes
    2 tablespoons butter
    1/2 red onion, finely chopped
    salt and white pepper
    3-1/2 tbsp créme fraiche or sour cream
    2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

  • Instruction:
    - Boil the potatoes and mash them with the butter
    - Add red onion, salt and white pepper to taste
    - Form the mash into round cakes
    - Slice the herring fillets in smaller pieces and place on the potato, top with a dollop of créme fraiche or sour cream and the chives
    Best when served freshly prepared.

  • *Matjes herring is a spiced pickled herring which you can find at most Scandinavian specialty stores in the U.S. along with IKEA Food shops. (We can’t vouch for the IKEA variety but specialty stores will likely carry one of two common brands—Abba and Klädesholmen Matjes.)