By Reuven Blau / New York Daily News
Brooklyn is swimming in herring.
Supermarkets and fish stores in Borough Park and Crown Heights are creating funky new flavors to make the traditional after-Sabbath services snack more crowd pleasing.
“It’s not like the old days,” said Shlomo Raskin, 40, a herring guru who runs a fish store on Kingston Ave.
Herring sales at his shop — which offers 25 flavors of herring — have “tripled” in the past year, Raskin said.
“(Herring) has exploded on many fronts,” he said. “It has gotten more popular in religious communities and expanded to non-religious and non-Jews as a healthy food high in Omega-3.”
Borough Park is at the epicenter of the herring boom. Along one 10-block stretch, four herring sellers offer a wide range of flavors, including wine sauce and honey mustard.
“This is the best herring!” said Chana Rivka Flaum, 42, as she shopped in Wiesner’s Grocery on 18th Ave. and 60th St. Store owner Shlomy Wiesner, 50, said he spent 10 years perfecting the recipe for his 12 herring flavors.
“I can’t tell you how many times I failed,” Wiesner said. “I decided to play around and do something unique that other people would enjoy.”
Like many Jews, Weisner didn’t enjoy the slimy, salty fish as a child.
“There were only three flavors and they were smelly and awful,” he recalled.
Now, his small grocery offers options like herring soaked in wine sauce with jalapeno peppers, which are used to mask much of the fishy taste and smell.
“My grandfather’s herring wasn’t like this,” said store staffer Shalom Roth. “It is one of the most popular items in the store.”
Even the packaging of herring in Weisner’s shop has changed; large plastic tubs have been replaced with see-through, half-pound plastic containers that sell for $5 each.
A block away, Breadberry, a high-end grocery that opened in July, sells 21 different types of herring made by Raskin, who buys the small fish from suppliers in Holland, Denmark and Scotland.
“It used to be the ladies had the fancy cakes and the men had the herring,” said Breadberry owner Sam Gluck, 29. “Now, women can’t get enough of it.”