Thursday, 1 December 2011

Herring under the fur coat (a cold Russian salad)

I have mentioned already a troika of classic Russian salads when I wrote about a salad called Vinegret.
Dressed herring or a herring under a fur coat (lit.) is a very popular Russian layered salad made of the salted herring and cooked vegetables.
I haven't made it for ages, as it is not easy to find good quality salted herring. What you get in the delis across the country here is a marinated herring, a slimey and mushy concoction, very vinegary and odd, it always makes me think of the chemical weapons of mass destruction.
Finally I decided to prepare my own salted herring. I bought a couple of fresh herrings from the fish counter and salted them overnight.

You will need
2 medium potatoes
2 medium salted herrings
1 small onion
1 medium apple
2 medium carrots 
1 egg
2 medium beets

Cook the beets, potatoes and carrots (separately, you don't want all your veg to go purple), peel the skin and grate each vegatable. Use a bigger grating slot for the potatoes, otherwise it will look like glue. Start layering.
First you do a potato layer.
Second layer: boned and chopped herring.

Third: finely chopped onion
Fourth: a grated apple

Fifth: grated carrots

Sixth: grated beets

Add a generous helping of mayo on the top and spread it all over the beet layer. Decorate with the finely chopped egg (first egg white, then the yolk).
A classic salad is also decorated with a beet rose (I agree my attempt at making beet roses wasn't the most inspiring, lol).

There are several options available: you may skip the apple layer, but I prefer to have an apple, as it adds extra texture and sweetness.
Some cooks put the mayo only over the beetroot. I like to do several mayo layers: first over the potatoes, before adding the chopped herring. And later over the apple and carrots as well (just a bit, not overflowing with mayo).

I understand it is an acquired taste. Despite the fact that he lived in Russia for a while (when doing research for his first book on the organised crime in Russia), my husband never apprecaited any fish dishes that include salted, tinned or pickled fish. When he arrived home yesterday to find the salad in the kitchen, I could see he was looking at it rather nervously, so I laughed and said: Don't feel obliged to eat it, I cooked it as a trip down the memory lane. And I definitely enjoyed it.
The salad will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, but not longer.


  1. Ooh I'd never thought of doing a layered salad - this sounds lovely

    1. It really is tasty, I especially love it the next day, when all the flavours are fused.