Authorship of this wonderful salad is attributed to Anastas Bogomilov - merchant, the owner of network of popular canteens and restaurants in Moscow at the beginning of 20th century. During late 1910’s Russia has been going through a lot of political and social turmoil eventually manifested in two revolutions of 1917. It has been very common for patrons of his restaurants adhering to opposing political views to get drunk and get into argument about fate of the country. Arguments eventually were growing into a fights accompanied by broken plates, glasses and even furniture. Clever businessman and patriot, Anastas came up with the idea of good hearty snack which could represent a notion of national unification.
“Herring under a fur coat” has been served for the first time on New Years Eve of 1919. The main ingredient of this dish was herring – favorite treat of the working poor, or “proletarians”. With addition of onions, potatoes and carrots, covered by layer of grated beets symbolizing red banner of the revolutionaries the salad was a sure hit. In order not to forget the enemies of the Soviets, the salad has been generously seasoned with Western invention – mayo. New dish has been a blast with Bogomilov’s restaurants patrons and in a very short time the fights her become significantly less frequent while number of patrons has increased and profits grew as a result.
Name of the new salad has been picked according to the revolutionary times: “Boycott and anathema to chauvinism and decadence”. Russian version of this phrase has been turned into an acronym “S.H.U.B.A” which happened to be a Russian word for “fur coat”. Later on, the name of the beloved snack author has been forgotten and salad got a nickname of “herring under fur coat”.
Classic recipe for “herring under fur coat” always includes fish fillet, cooked vegetables and mayo dressing making salad delicious but at the same time high in calories. These days every chef and every housewife have their own variation of this recipe which may include apples, boiled eggs, herbs, cheese etc. I also have number of my own options for this recipe which include various additional ingredients, sequence of layering and dish decoration etc, but today I would like to present a “diet” version, lower in calories but not in taste.
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Deconstructed "Herring under a fur coat"
“Herring under fur coat” is a classic holiday salad, mandatory on New Year Eve’s table along with champagne, tangerines as well as another all time favorite - “Olivier” salad. Ready “herring under fur coat” should be covered and left in refrigerator for few hours and then cut into pieces just like cake right before being served.
- 2 large carrots, washed
- 2 beets, washed with tops and bottoms removed
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 4 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
- 1 (12 ounce) jar herring fillets, packed in oil, chopped
- 6 Tbsp. yogurt or light mayonnaise
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- fresh dill for serving
- salmon roe for serving
In a large pot of water boil beets for about one hour, or until soft when pierced with a knife. In a separate pot, cook the carrots for about 30 minutes, until cooked but still firm. Allow each vegetable to cool to the touch before further handling. Remove and discard the skins from the vegetables. Shred the carrots, and beets, (the smaller the better) keeping them in separate bowls.
Then you need to decide ether you are making individual salads or one big salad for a table. The directions are the same.
Arrange about half the onion and half the herring fillets in a layer in the bottom of a bowl. Cover the layer with about half of the grated carrots, then a layer of about half the beets. Spread about 3 tablespoons of yogurt or mayonnaise over the beets; and finally about half the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat the layers in the same order to finish building the salad. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Serve cold with fresh dill and salmon roe on top.