Smoked Herring is sold in two ways in the Caribbean - whole with the skin on and bones in tack, complete with the head; and filleted and boneless. The filleted and boneless is the more expensive of the two.
Both types are available in markets and supermarkets.
Smoked Herring is first salted and then smoked to preserve it, therefore in most preparations, the Smoked Herring is de-salted to remove almost all of the salt leaving just enough to taste.
Whole Smoked Herring
To loosen the fish and remove the bones, the whole fish is added to an open flame and immediately, the fish opens up revealing its center where all the bones are and in some cases, where you find lovely roe.
Smoked Herring is a very oily fish so you have to watch out for the flames that go up in the air when the fish is being roasted. Once the fish is opened, the bones are removed (most of the skin would have burnt off) and the flesh is chopped into small pieces to be cooked.
When using whole Smoked Herring in any dish, it is adjusted to accommodate the extra salt from the Smoked Herring.
Filleted Smoked Herring
Unlike salt fish, it is not necessary to soak Smoked Herring overnight to loosen up the fish and remove the salt. A quick, rapid boil for 5 -10 minutes does the trick. The fillets unlike the whole Smoked Herring is boiled to remove some of the salt simply because there is more flesh and more surface area of salt.
Once boiled, the fish is drained and then prepared according to the desired recipe.