An authentic Old World appetizer.


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Forshmak is probably the most authentically Jewish herring recipe. The word itself is Yiddish for "pre-taste"--that is, an appetizer, meant to set your taste buds going. There are many varieties of forshmak--probably as many as there were shtetls in Eastern Europe. This one originates in Haschevato, Ukraine, the small village where my father's side of the family comes from.

For other herring variations, try these recipes for the classic herring and onions and herring in an overcoat (herring pie).


2 nicely sized herrings, fillets separated
1 sour apple, peeled and cored
2-3 pieces white bread, soaked in water or milk (squeeze out the liquid before using)
2-3 hard-boiled eggs, yolks separated from whites
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
a few scallions, chopped

Categories: Appetizer, Ashkenazi, Eastern European, Fish,


In a food processor, blend the fish fillets, apple, egg-whites, and bread. Add the oil and vinegar, mix thoroughly, and place the mixture in a dish.

Crumble the egg yolk and scallions on top. Refrigerate before serving.

Forshmak is particularly good served on black Russian bread, but you can put it on healthy spelt crackers, too.

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Jake Marmer

Jake Marmer is a poet and performer, living in New York City. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at CUNY Graduate Center. You can find more of his work at