You might have never heard of the crazy and delicious potato salad with with beets and pickled herring. Trust me, it's delicious! Dressed Herring or Herring Under a Fur Coat is THE celebration party food recipe in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states.
In Russian, it's called Selyodka Pod Shuboy (Селедка под шубой) literally translates to Herring Under a Fur Coat or Shuba for short. A Shuba is a fur coat worn in winter. This Herring Salad is a much loved Russian meal especially popular during New Year celebrations. A Russian shuba is a warm winter fur coat worn in Russia for hundreds of years. Herring Under a Fur Coat consists of layered potato, herring, carrots, beets, lots of mayonnaise and grated egg which makes the dish look like it's covering the herring by a fur coat (a bright purple one).
Russian New Years Food
In North America, we are used to celebrating Christmas as one of our biggest celebrations of the year. However in Russia, it's the New Year that is the biggest celebration. I'm sure this is due to former communist times as an atheist state, banning Christian Christmas celebrations. Instead they chose to focus on celebrating the New Year. Christmas in Russia follows the Julian calendar and is celebrated on the 7th of January.
The Russian New Years table is filled with zakuski and delicious Russian Foods. Here are some favorites that are enjoyed by millions of people! This is classic Russian food at it's best!
- Olivye - Olivier Russian Potato Salad
- Vinegret - Beet Salad
- Piroshki with Cabbage
- Shuba Salad with Salmon
- Hrenovuha - Horseradish Vodka
Russians Love Mayonnaise
You will either love Herring Under a Fur Coat, or you will hate it. The Russian climate is suited to growing root vegetables, and beet and potatoes feature heavily in our culture. Russians also have a love affair with mayonnaise, starting at the imperial Russian times, and growing in popularity during the Soviet era. However, not all mayo's taste the same. Outside of Eastern Europe, many mayo's aren't creamy, too tangy and don't taste right. What mayo to use for Herring Under a Fur Coat? Well, if you can find a Russian or Slavic mayonnaise from an Eastern European deli, use that. If not, I usually default of Hellman's Mayo or Heinz Mayo.
Herring in Oil
Living outside of Russia, it's hard to find the right type of pickled herring. You don't want to use pickled Herring Rollmops, as they are too wet and too pickled. Your Eastern European Deli will likely sell Herring that's canned in oil. This style of herring is more salted for preservation that pickled in vinegar. I find that a Latvian herring brand called Latis Herring Fillets in Oil is the best herring to use. If you can't find it, use what your have. You can even use smoked herring for a different twist of this recipe.
Different Ways To Make Herring Under a Fur Coat
The quickest and easiest way is to prepare it in a casserole style dish. Layer the ingredients like normal, and people can serve themselves with a large spoon from the dish.
The second way Shuba is prepared, and my preferred method, is that the layers of herring salad are visible. It almost looks like a cake. For this method you will need a springform pan, so you can easily remove the sides. Almost everyone has a springform pan in the kitchen. If you're fancy, you can use a stainless steel cake ring, but I find a springform pan is easier to remove.
The final way to make Herring Under a Fur Coat is to make mini individual serves for each guest. Again, you will need mini springform pans (4 inches wide), and need to make one for each guest. This looks fantastic and elevates your meal, but is time consuming and takes up more space in your fridge.
Boiling Vegetables With or Without Skins?
Most Russian recipes tell you to boil the vegetables unpeeled, then peel them after they are cooled. Have you ever tried to peel a soft carrot? I peel everything first, then boil them and achieve the same result. Save yourself some time and frustration! Although you can make it the traditional way. Boil the beets and carrots, all unpeeled. When cooked, drain, then peel the soft vegetables before using. The vegetables can be cooked the day before and kept in the fridge until you're ready to build your salad.
How to Make Herring Under a Fur Coat
As mentioned, you need a springform pan to make this layered salad. Don't be scared of the mayo! Russians love mayonnaise. I have 3 layers of mayonnaise in this layered salad because I love mayo. Some people prefer to have only 2 layers of mayo and try to limit the use of mayonnaise. Don't worry and be generous with your mayo quantities. Nobody likes a dry potato salad! As you can see in the video, my recipe really uses the minimum mayo when making a salad of this size.
Cook the vegetables and eggs in advance and allow to cool. Don't grate the vegetables in advance, but grate over the springform pan as you layer the ingredients. Slice or dice the herring fillets into small bite size pieces. Finely dice the onion. Now you an build your layers. Start with a bit of grated potato on the base of the springform pan so it doesn't stick when you serve. Then add a layer of herring and onion, then spread mayo. Add the rest of the grated potato and add mayo, add grated carrot, grated beets then mayo again. Garnish with grated hard boiled egg.
Add salt and pepper in the middle layers of the salad. Quite often Herring Under a Fur Coat seems under-salted to me, so don't be afraid to add a solid teaspoon of seasoning. It's quite easy to build this salad, it just sounds a bit scary if you've never made it before.
The dill is optional as a garnish, however I think it's adds more flavor and looks great. Be creative with your designs of dill and the grated egg yolk and egg white.
My final tip is about the boiled vegetables. To speed up the cooling time, simply put them into the freezer until they are cool. Some people roast them into the oven. Remember, you can prepare the vegetables in advance and simply grate and layer your salad when ready.
Herring Under a Fur Coat is a perfect marriage of 'very Russian' food tastes. Herring Under a Fur Coat is served as part of the cold appetizers or salad as part of your celebration meal. However, the serving I'm referring to is the different ways you can make this layered salad. Herring Under a Fur Coat, easier to make than it sounds. Everyone needs to try it at least once! A Russian classic, Dressed Herring is enjoyed at every celebration. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- Herring fillets in oil 3-4 fillets about 400g
- 3 large beets peeled
- 3 large potatoes peeled
- 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
- 2 large carrots peeled
- ½ white onion chopped (use less onion if you prefer)
- 2 hard boiled eggs
- salt and pepper
- dill to garnish optional
- In a saucepan, boil the peeled potatoes and carrots for about 20 minutes, or until they are soft. Allow to cool and set aside.
- In a separate saucepan, boil the peeled beets for about 45 minutes until they are soft. The time will depend on the size of the beets. Allow to cool and set aside.
- Cook the eggs until they are hard boiled, for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool, peel, and set aside.
- Slice the herring fillets into small bite size pieces (cubed or diced). Set aside.
- Finely dice the white onion. Set aside. If you are using yellow onions which have a sharp bite, put them in boiling water for 2 minutes then strain before using. This will reduce the bite of the yellow onions.
- On a serving platter, springform pan or glass deep dish, start to layer your ingredients.
- Grate 1 peeled potato over the dish and evenly spread across the entire base.
- Add the finely chopped onion, spread evenly over the grated potato. Put the chopped herring evenly over the onions.
- Add a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, using the back of the spoon to thinly spread across the dish, pressing into the herring.
- Grate the remaining potatoes over the mayonnaise mixture and evenly layer across the dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Grate the carrots over the potatoes and lightly cover with another layer of mayonnaise.
- Finally, grate the beets evenly spread over the carrot mayo layer, and cover with the remaining mayonnaise.
- Grate the eggs over the entire Shuba salad. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve. Best prepared the day before serving, but allow at least 3 hours in the fridge so the entire salad has had time to chill.
- Garnish with chopped dill before serving.