Sichuan Spicy Matjes Herring

Every Simchat Torah, I like to prepare some boldly flavored matjes herring; last year’s flavors were jalapeno-lime and roasted garlic. This year, I brought my herring home and noticed the jar of Wil Yeung’s chili oil I made recently and inspiration struck. I’d infuse my herring with the chili oil’s warm spices (gochugaru, anise, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom) and add some numbing heat with sichuan peppercorns. Fresh chilis and scallions add some brightness.

The result is very well balanced flavor but likely nothing you’ve tasted at kiddush before.

  1. Heat a pan to medium-high and toast the sichuan peppercorns until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle until moderately fine. Pass through a sieve to catch remaining large pieces. Combine fine powder with chili oil in a large bowl.
  3. Cut the herring into 1-inch pieces and add to bowl.
  4. Slice chilis and scallions finely and add to bowl.
  5. Add sesame seeds and stir gently.
  6. Cover tightly and marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  7. Serve on egg kichel.

Red Chili Oil

Adapted slightly from Wil Yeung’s recipe.

  1. Thinly slice the red onion, garlic cloves, ginger. Finely chop the scallions. Slice the peppers in half.
  2. Add the cinnamon, anise, cloves, cardamom, and sesame into a saucepan. Toast on medium heat for 3–4min, then set aside.
  3. Add the oil to the saucepan and heat for two minutes. Very carefully spoon in the red onion, garlic, ginger, and peppers.
  4. Fry for 6 minutes, then transfer the ingredients onto a plate lined with paper towel. (Reserve crispy aromatics for another recipe.)
  5. Carefully add the green onions into the oil along with the toasted spices. When it begins to bubble, add the gochugaru and salt. Cook for one minute, then turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and allow oil to cool. Carefully strain through a sieve and into a jar. Keep the cinnamon stick and peppers in the bottle. Store oil in the fridge and enjoy for up to 6 months.