Paul Johnson of Monterey Fish Market says 50% of the local herring population has been used for pig and chicken feed in years past, and most of it has been shipped out to Japan for its roe, but he's working to change that. At this year's annual fishery conference for legislature, he and Geoff Shester of Oceana stated the case for increased local human consumption and representative Jared Huffman passed the Forage Fish for Food bill AB 1299. Now chefs like Michael Tusk of Quince and Jean-Pierre Moulle of Chez Panisse are calling in orders.
A small silver bony sea dweller similar to the sardine, herring is abundant in local waters. The flesh is naturally high in oil content, yet chefs describe the flavor as clean and delicate.