Herring Under a Fur Coat


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This dish, known in Russian as селёдка под шубой (directly translated as “herring under a fur coat”) can only be described as everything that epitomizes Russian cuisine. It is a layered salad of classically Russian ingredients such as beets, carrots, potatoes, and of course – herring. And like most traditional russian salads it is laden with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has never been a favorite of mine so I try to be light handed with it in this version. While the process is straightforward, it is relatively labor intensive – which is why this dish is typically reserved for the holiday dinner table.

This dish is a favorite of my husband’s, and with his birthday approaching we decided it would be the perfect centerpiece to the celebratory table. He also isn’t a fan of sweets so it is also a great substitute for a birthday cake.

3 medium-large beets
3 large potatoes
2 large or 4 small carrots
2 apples
1/2 large onion
1 package herring fillets in oil (~3 large fillets), sold at eastern European groceries

Begin with prepping all the ingredients that you will ultimately use to layer. Place beets, carrots, potatoes (unpeeled but scrubbed) in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, drop to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender when poked with a fork (may be 20 minutes for carrots, 30-40 for beets and potatoes). When done, remove and let cool.

In the mean time, dice herring and onion (separately) and put in small bowls. Peel and grate the apples into separate bowl – drain off excess juice.

Once root vegetables cool, peel them. Grate carrots and beets into separate bowls. Chop cooked potatoes into small cubes. Lightly salt the potatoes, add a few spoons of mayonnaise and stir to coat. I like using an imported mayonnaise from Russia that is less vinegary and lighter then domestic mayonnaise sold locally – but obviously feel free to use whichever you like or have access to.

Separate out 2/3 of the beets and also mix with 2-3 spoons of mayonnaise.

While you can assemble from the bottoms up freeform I prefer to use a bowl or baking dish as a mold and layer from the top down and then invert onto a plate. Pick your mold and line with plastic wrap for easier unmolding and clean up. You are now ready to assemble.


Start with the beet-mayonnaise mixture at the bottom of the mold. Empty it all in and create an even layer that goes up the side of the dish. How you choose to layer the ingredients is up to you once the beet is down. I then added 1/3 of the potato mixture, followed by a thin layer of mayonnaise (every layer is separated with mayonnaise).


I then layered apple – mayonnaise – carrot – mayo – remaining beet – mayo. Then I sprinkled half the onions, followed by all the herring and sprinkled with the remaining onions. Again spread thin layer of mayo and finally the last layer of the potato mixture.


Compact everything down and refrigerate at least 20 minutes – ideally an hour as the flavors need time to blend. When it’s time to unmold, place a plate face down on the mold. Pick up the mold holding down the plate and quickly flip upside down.


The whole thing should easily slip off the mold. Refrigerate until serving. Decorate as desired (I cut out radish flowers and my husband’s initials using apples).


Enjoy a slice of Russian tradition!

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