Look for salted herring at fishmongers or specialty delicatessens. Transform these beautiful silver blue fish into piquant appetizers and serve with buttered dark rye bread as part of a Christmas Eve buffet or after a holiday outing.
In large glass, stainless steel or plastic bowl, soak herring in cold water to cover for 12 to 24 hours, changing water 2 or 3 times. Drain and pat dry. With very sharp knife, slit stomach and remove insides. Make shallow cut along back and fillet each herring, always keeping knife pointed at an angle toward bones and interior and making short cutting strokes. Remove any tiny bones remaining in fillets. Leave skin on and cut herring into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
In small saucepan combine 1 1/4 cups water, vinegar and sugar. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until cool.
Peel carrot and cut thinly on the diagonal. Cut onions and leek into thin slices. In glass bowl or wide mouthed jar with 8-cup capacity, layer herring chunks with vegetables, bay leaves and spices. Cover with cooled pickling liquid. Cover bowl or jar and marinate for ate least 2 days in refrigerator.
To serve, remove herring and vegetables from liquid. Arrange attractively on place with vegetables mounded in centre and herring around edge. Makes about 30 pieces of herring.