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Shared by Anna Gershenson

Chopped Herring (Forshmak)

Yield: 4 to 6 servingsTime: 30 min

Shared by Anna Gershenson

Chopped herring served on triangular pieces of toast on orange plate atop cream tablecloth.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.

Chopped Herring (Forshmak)

Yield: 4 to 6 servingsTime: 30 min

Family Journey

Riga, Latvia
Worcester, Massachusetts

During the peak of the Covid pandemic, Berkshires-based culinary educator Anna Gershenson taught us to make her mother Rhoda’s chopped herring recipe for a special project we called Tradish

Rhoda grew up in Riga, Latvia and was just 16-years-old when World War II broke out. She fled the city with her mother and uncle and “she [lost] her whole family in the process,” Anna explains. “After the war was over, my mom returned to Riga where she married my dad and together they started their own family.”

When Anna was growing up, Rhoda would cook her mother’s recipes including one for chopped herring or forshmak, which means pre-taste or appetizer in Yiddish. “The dish was said to originally be made with fried herring,” Anna explains. But in Jewish homes, it evolved into a pâté of chopped herring — sometimes with apples and onions. Latvian Jews typically call the dish gehakte herring, meaning chopped herring, she adds. 

Look for jars of herring with a clear marinating liquid, not those with a cream or mustard sauce. 

Read more about Anna’s family in “The Rosh Hashanah When Anna Gershenson Became the Family Matriarch” and try her recipes for kreplach, braised chicken with olives, and sweet-and-sour tongue


  • ½ thin slice of white bread, crust removed 
  • 12-ounce jar marinated herring
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped into quarters
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into ½ -inch pieces
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt to taste, if needed


  • Step 1

    Place the white bread into a small bowl submerged in room temperature water. Soak the bread for about 10 to 20 minutes or until it is completely tender. Drain the bread from the water. Discard the water.

  • Step 2

    Place the herring into a strainer. Drain the liquid and discard the marinated onions. 

  • Step 3

    Place the onion, apple and soaked bread into a food processor and run the food processor until the ingredients are finely chopped. Add the herring and pulse the mixture about 5 times or until it is finely chopped and incorporated. Make sure not to over-process the mixture. Add 2 hard-boiled eggs and pulse a few more times until the eggs are finely chopped and incorporated well.

  • Step 4

    Transfer the chopped herring mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the sunflower oil and sugar and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or additional sugar if needed. Set aside.

  • Step 5

    Separate the yolk and egg white from the remaining hard boiled egg. Chop both separately. Set aside.

  • Step 6

    To serve, transfer the chopped herring into a serving plate and shape it into a square mound. Garnish by sprinkling 3 vertical stripes of the chopped egg: sprinkle half of the chopped egg whites on the left third of the mound, sprinkle the chopped egg yolk on the center third of the mound and sprinkle the remaining chopped egg whites on the right third of the chopped herring. Serve the chopped herring at room temperature with a slice of rye bread.