Herring under a fur coat, “Селёдка под шубой” [Seledka pod shuboi] or just “Шуба” [Shuba] is a very popular Russian dish. It would be more correct to acclaim this dish “soviet staple dish” as it was invented in soviet times. All soviet food has two primary qualities: it is made of cheap, simple and always available ingredients and it requires time and effort to fix. Both apply to Herring under a fur coat. History of Herring under a fur coat is not clear. It resembles some Finnish cuisine recipes with herring and beetroot, but I am unsure it originated from there.
Since putting together Herring under a fur coat is time consuming, it is not an everyday food. At home this dish is made for holidays, like New Year or some family event. It is normally made in large batches as normally it goes onto the holiday table and many people will eat it, but also to justify time and effort making it. However many Russian food cafes and restaurants (like almost all) serve Herring under a fur coat, also you can find in most food stores in salad department. Herring under a fur coat is a layered salad. Recipes vary, so it can have different taste depending on who makes it. Herring under a fur coat from stores is just a remote resemblance of what is should taste like, so why not make it yourself — the proper way?
Click “Read more” below for a step by step recipe of Herring under a fur coat.
Herring under a fur coat — recipe
First off, you will need large rectangular dish with steep sides. Many people use round shaped dish and that is very inconvenient when it comes to serving. Some use just a large platter, so Herring under a fur coat looks like a pile, and it is wrong as all layers must me the same in size.
I use glass baking pan sized 35 by 25 centimeters and 6 centimeters deep. Your dish must be deep enough (6-7 centimeters) to fit all layers.
Ingredients fo fill the dish of the size that I use:
- Herring fillets, three packs.
- Potatoes – 6 medium sized. The bigger potatoes the easier it will be to peel.
- Beets – 2 large and 1 medium. Same with potatoes, bugger sized beets are easier to peel. You can look for boiled beets in Moscow stores, but unfortunately quality is bad. If you can find boiled beets in store that keep their shape and firm enough to grate, you can use that.
- Carrots – 4 large, again the bigger, the better.
- Six eggs, hard boiled.
- Mayonnaise, a pack of (I only used half of the pack, but better to have some leftovers, than run out of mayo in the middle of putting the dish together).
- Cheese – any hard cheese will do.
Boil potatoes, beets and carrots, in skins (very important). You will need two separate pots: one for beets and one for potatoes and carrots. Boil vegetables several hours in advance (or the day before putting the dish together) for vegetables to cool off and dry. Boil eggs in a separate pot and let them cool off too. When vegetables are not hot and not wet, peel them.
Putting Herring under a fur coat together
First layer is herring
Remove herring from the packaging and drain from oil. I use Matias Atlantic herring fillets because they have very natural taste, they are firm and have no taste enhancers or any additives that only spoil the taste. Smoked herring is no good for this salad. This is not an advertisement, I only recommend products that I use and like. Good pickled herring must have nothing but salt and oil in it and that’s what Matias herring has.
Cut herring fillets into 5-8 millimeter square-ish pieces and distribute evenly as one solid layer on the bottom of the pan.
Second layer is potatoes
Grate potatoes using manual grater and put approx. a 1.5-centimeter layer on top of herring layer. To make the layer even, I hold the grater above the dish and move across, shredding potatoes at the same time. In this way the layer is even and every spot is covered. Alternatively you can grate potatoes separately and transfer on top of herring layer. Flatten grated potatoes with fork, making solid layer.
Next goes mayonnaise. You can use any mayonnaise available in stores. I used Mr.Ricco mayonnaise with quail eggs, “premium quality, all natural product”, as packaging reads, whatever that means.
The biggest mistake many people make is putting too much mayonnaise in this salad. When it’s too much, layers soak in mayo and all ingredients lose its taste to mayonnaise. Individual servings fall apart, layers mix, looking like a mess and the salad tastes fatty. To avoid that, put medium sized drops of mayo all across the layer and using fork distribute evenly making a thin layer of mayonnaise, just good enough to keep veggies from being too dry. Add more mayo if needed to cover the whole layer. When working the mayo, you press potatoes with fork and flatten the layer even more.
Next layer is beets
You make this level the same way you did with potatoes. Having gloves on, when grating beets, is a good idea. Again, flatten beets layer with fork, apply mayo drops on top of beets and distribute mayo all over the beets layer.
Next layer is carrots
Make it the same way as previous layers and top it with mayo.
Next layer is hard boiled eggs
Grate and apply eggs the same way on top of carrots. You don’t need to flatten the eggs, just apply mayo directly on it. Mayo part is a bit tricky because egg pieces are very lightweight and it’s difficult to distribute mayo as egg pieces drag with the fork and stick to it. You wanna be gentle and patient and carefully work the mayo into the eggs making a solid layer. As an option you can skip this mayo layer altogether, because in some recipes it’s the last layer and nothing goes on top of it.
In my recipe the last layer is cheese
Grate cheese on top of the egg layer, making it as a thin layer and it completes the dish. You can use grated cheese from the store. I used Arla cheese as it seems to be the only local cheese with no artificial colorants.
Many recipes include onions, which I dislike, so they are not in this recipe.
Your Herring under a fur coat is done!
All layers will have different thickness, herring, potato and beets layers will be thicker, whilst carrot, egg and cheese layers will be much slimmer.
Before serving, let Herring under a fur coat stay in a fridge for at least about an hour. To serve you will need spatula. Cut rectangular shaped pieces and carefully transfer onto individual plates, keeping layers intact. This recipe makes about 10-12 servings depending on serving size.
Herring under a fur coat goes best with cold shot of vodka or white wine. Enjoy.