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.
What is Herring Under a Fur Coat?
In Russian, it's called Selyodka Pod Shuboy (Селедка под шубой) literally translates to Herring Under a Fur Coat or Shuba for short. This Herring Salad is a much loved Russian meal especially popular during New Year celebrations.
Shuba means a warm winter fur coat. When the final layer of grated egg covers the beets, it resembles fur (which makes the Herring Under the Fur Coat). Some recipes don't use grated eggs. The layered salad consists of layers of herring, onion, potatoes, carrots, beets, lots of mayonnaise and grated egg.
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 Slavic and 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 vinegary. 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 or make Shuba with Salmon 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 glass casserole style dish. Layer the ingredients as per recipe, and people can serve themselves with a large spoon from the dish.
The second way Shuba is prepared, and my preferred method, is to expose the layers of herring salad. 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!
You can also make it the traditional way. Boil the beets and carrots together in the same pot, 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! Did I mention that Russians love mayonnaise? There are 3 layers of mayonnaise in this salad. To limit the amount of mayo and calories, some people prefer to have only 2 layers of mayo.
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 tries to use the minimum mayo when making a salad of this size. Pro Tip: Don't grate the vegetables in advance, but grate over the springform pan as you layer the ingredients.
- Cook the vegetables and eggs in advance and allow to cool.
- Slice or dice the herring fillets into small bite size pieces.
- Dice the onion.
- Start with a bit of grated potato on the base of the springform pan so the herring doesn't fall apart when serving.
- Then add a layer of herring and onion, then spread mayo.
- Grate the rest of the grated potato and add mayo, layer grated carrot, grated beets then mayo again.
- Garnish with grated hard boiled egg.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
- Season - 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.
- Dill - an optional garnish that might not be in season in winter. 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.
- Parsley - substitute with dill to add as a garnish for decoration
- Roast Vegetables - Instead of boiling beets and carrots, try roasting them for a richer flavor
- Speed it Up - To cool down the boiled vegetables faster, simply put them into the freezer until they are cool (not frozen).
- Prepare in Advance - you can prepare the vegetables in advance and simply grate and layer your salad when ready.
Can I Prepare Shuba in Advance?
Best prepared the day before serving to allow flavors to meld. If serving on the same day as preparing, allow at least 3 hours in the fridge so the entire salad has had time to chill.
How to Store Herring Under a Fur Coat
Place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
How Long Does It Last?
Dressed Herring Salad should last 4-5 days in the fridge.
Herring Under a Fur Coat is a perfect marriage of 'very Russian' food tastes and ingredients. Served as part of the cold appetizers or salad as part of your celebration meal.
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!
- Springform Pan
- 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
- Potatoes: In a saucepan, boil the peeled potatoes and carrots for about 20 minutes, or until they are soft. Allow to cool and set aside.
- Beets: In a separate saucepan, boil the peeled beets for about 45 minutes until they are soft. Cooking time depends on the size of the beets. Allow to cool and set aside.
- Eggs: Cook the eggs until they are hard boiled, for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool, peel, and set aside.
- Herring: Slice the herring fillets into small bite size pieces (cubed or diced). Set aside.
- Onion: 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.
Making Herring Under a Fur Coat
- Grate 1 peeled potato over the dish and lightly spread across the springform pan.
- Add the diced herring, spreading evenly over the potato base. Sprinkle chopped onion over the herring.
- Using the back of a spoon, thinly spread a few tablespoons of mayonnaise across the dish (pressing into the herring).
- Grate the remaining potatoes over the mayo. Season with 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. Garnish with chopped dill before serving.