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Dinesmesse & a Recipe for Karrisild (Curried Herring)

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Saint Denis statue
St Denis. His statue stands at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim

Dinesmesse is the Christian feast day to commemorate Saint Denis and is always celebrated on 9 October.

Saint Denis' life and death was full of drama, sacrifice and mystery. In the 3rd century he arrived in Paris from Rome with two companions all as missionaries whose job it was to convert the pagan masses. In fact they were so successful that the pagan priests began to get seriously worried and decided to imprison and torture Denis and his companions. They languished in prison for a long time, before finally being beheaded on the highest hill in Paris, which we now know as Montmartre. The drama of Saint Denis life does not stop here though. Legend says that after he was beheaded, his headless body bent down and picked up the head and walked with it down the hill, preaching a sermon as he went. Where he eventually fell was his burial place and there now stands a small shrine to him.

In Norway, Saint Denis is commemorated with a sculpture in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. The day is not always marked on every primstav, but when it is it is usually a bishops staff or a fish.

Of course, every day on the primstav has it's own special prediction for the year ahead and on this day we should expect a strong wind to blow all the rest of the leaves off the trees.

Given that the primstav symbol for Dinesmesse is a fish it is fitting that there is a saying that the herring is fat enough to eat by now. From the middle of Norway and north, herring is being caught and salted and shows just how in touch the Nordic culture was and still is with harvesting of certain produce at specific times.

Tray of herrings
This is the ideal time to harvest herrings

Sild or pickled herrings are a staple of Scandinavian cuisines and are found from Denmark to Sweden and across the Baltic states (where the very best herrings come from). They are the perfect food for preserving as they last a long time. As much as I love a simple pickled herring, I also really enjoy the different sauces that they come in from the Christmas themed spices to tomato and onto curry. It really elevates a simple ingredient into something special and memorable.

Karrisild is creamy with a hint of spice

You probably wouldn't automatically put pickled herring and curry together, but I can promise you it's a winning combination. It's simple and quick to make and will keep happily for about a week in the fridge. It's a great way to pep up a salad or a classic smørbrød and not only is it tasty but it's wonderfully healthy and seasonal.

Sild on rye bread
Perfect enjoyed on some hearty rye bread

Karrisild (Curried pickled herring) Serves 4 people with good appetites


4 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons thick natural yoghurt

1 shallot, finely sliced

1 apple, finely chopped

1 teaspoon lemon juice

200g /7 oz plain pickled herrings, drained and cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon sugar

5 slices of pickled gherkins, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped chives or other herb of your choice

To serve:

Rye bread, or other rustic sliced bread



In bowl toss together the chopped apple and lemon juice to prevent the apple from going brown.

In a larger bowl mix together the mayonnaise, yoghurt and sugar. Stir together well to dissolve the sugar before adding the curry powder, shallot, apple and gherkins. Stir in the herring and chopped chives.

Serve on buttered rye bread or a thick slice of rustic bread. Garnish with a few slices of onion and some chopped chives.

Vær så god!

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