What Are The Creamy Portions in the Belly of Smoked Herring

Joined Jul 12, 2015
Out here in Egypt we don't get kippers, but we do get bloaters - ie. herrings that are smoked for a short time but are not cleaned before smoking.

As we use these in Kedgeree (there not being a great source of other smoked fish here), I buy them whole, then top and tail them, slice them open and remove the guts and bones.

Quite a simple process, but I find that in most (if not all) of these, there are 2 smooth, creamy portions in the belly of the fish, one on each side.  They look to me to be roe, but it's hard to tell as the smoking has removed any resemblance of eggs from them.

Does anyone know herrings well enough to clarify what these lovely-looking areas of possibly edible niceness could be? I've tasted them raw (smoked) and they could be roe, but I think they'd be better being pan-friend to finish them off.
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
I'd say they are the roe sacks, unless you are finding them in every fish, then of course they would be something else.

Joined Jul 12, 2015
They seem to be in every fish, but I'm guessing 4 fish is not completely representative of the entire supply chain ;)

I've bagged them separately and put them in the freezer. They were not objectionable to eat raw (well, smoked raw) but I'm guessing they wouldn't be for everyone. I survived. I'll try dredging them in seasoned flour and pan-frying in butter for a start.

I'll report back on whether they're worth doing anything with from my point of view.
Joined May 7, 2012
Assuming Egyptian herring processing is anything like America's what you're getting is the sperm sacs. Basically it goes like this

Herring is caught
Separated by sex
Females get sold at a higher price because of the roe.
Joined Jul 12, 2015
Interesting - huge sperm sacs if that's the case - has anyone seen any recipes around for them if this is the case?  They're about 6" long on a small fish.
Joined Jul 28, 2001

If you find any long creamy coloured sacs that look like what I am removing in the above photograph, these are the soft-roes (more properly called Milt) that are found in male fish.

Put them to one side as they are delicious when fried in a little bacon fat.
Joined Jul 12, 2015
Thanks for all the useful responses.  I believe my ignorance has now been corrected.

After buying the last batch of bloaters from the cheap supermarket here, vacuum packed and working out at about £2.30 for a small one, we found ourselves in the most expensive supermarket today where the bloaters were still displayed in the crates that had come from the smokehouse.  Admittedly they weren't as shiny as the other ones, but they came in at £2.30 for FOUR medium sized ones.  Yeah :D

3 of these, when cleaned, produce recognisable roe sacks. Grainy, little bubbles of goodness which I'm currently eating spread on toast made from German farmer bread.  The third had the pale smooth sacs now identified as milt by Kinfarvito and Panini above.  Thanks all :D

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