Thursday, April 26, 2012

Herring under a fur coat variation

Probably the strangest gift we got at our recent baby shower was a package of herring from Belarus. The strangest, but as it happens, the very first one we enjoyed. It was from a Russian-American friend with whom I'd discussed the joys of herring and beets, and although she couldn't have known that I had an open can of sliced beets in the fridge awaiting their fate, it almost seemed meant to be that this delicious herring would be used for my take on the Russian salad, Herring under a fur coat.

I actually first had this layered salad at a Russian restaurant-cum-sauna in the distant suburbs of Dallas. It was a gorgeous creation, with shaved bits of boiled egg white making up the fluffy "fur coat" on top. But it also seemed very work-intensive. I thought I would make a version that would combine the right tastes, but skimp on the looks. I also wanted to make it a tiny bit lighter than the original version.

I started, as I always do, by looking through my cookbooks. I looked in Anya von Bremzen's Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, in Darra Goldstein's A Taste of Russia: A Cookbook of Russian Hospitality, in Russian Regional Recipes and in Russian, Polish & German Cooking. Zip. Zilch. While these books had plenty of recipes for herring and for beets, I couldn't find the one I was looking for. So after some googling, I fell upon (of course!) a recipe for it on Yulinka Cooks, one of my favourite food blogs. This version is inspired by her recipe, but takes a few shortcuts, and for the quantities I went by feel. Use this as a guideline, and adjust as you please.

Herring under a fur coat variation

  • 3 small potatoes, boiled, peeled, and diced
  • 1 can sliced beets, roughly chopped
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 1 package herring, cut into little pieces
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 pickles, diced
  • tablespoon fresh dill, more if dried
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Bulgarian yoghurt
  • to taste Salt and pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Eat immediately with dark bread, or marinate overnight.
Now, this was good for dinner when I made it, and to be honest, I ate it for breakfast the next day too (pictured). But it was really after a full day in the fridge, once all the flavours got to merge and marinate, it was ridiculously delicious. It was nowhere near as beautiful as a painstakingly constructed herring under a fur coat, but the taste is, if anything, better.