I used to think that only Japanese eat raw fish, so I was really surprised when I found that Dutch people also do so. The Dutch not only eat salted herring (zoute haring) occasionally, but they are really proud of it as the traditional food which symbolizes the sailor culture of the nation's past. Sometimes salted herring is also referred to as Hollandse nieuwe.
Salted herring is a raw herring that has been cleaned, had its head removed, and been salted to preserve the fish and kill the bacteria. The taste is chewy and a little bit salty, which gives the sensation and smell of fresh fish in your mouth.
You can easily find salted herring in the fish stalls at any market. The price is quite reasonable for students. One portion of salted herring only costs you 1.5 to 2 euros, including the optional onions. For a first try, I suggest that you ask for extra onions to take care of the fresh fish odour and help you cope with the uneasy feeling of raw flesh in your mouth.
The main difference between Japanese sushi and Dutch salted herring is the eating style. Sushi is mainly small fish fillets, eaten with well-cooked rice, ketchup, and wasabi; almost no raw taste is left when you eat it. But salted herring is more extreme; it is eaten as raw fillet, with or without onions. If that's not extreme enough for you, just eat the whole fish directly in the traditional way; hold the tail, tilt your head back, and slide the whole fish down your throat in one go. Now that's what I call extreme, and it tastes even better! Oh, and don't forget to make sure the head is removed so you don't choke.
Sacha Amaruzaman, Indonesian MSc student of Environmental Science