For our tree-trimming party the other day, Stanley made this dish, which we have had many times at our favorite Russian restaurant, Onegin.
Here is the recipe:
Herring in a Fur Coat:
You can find many recipes for this Russian classic on the internet, including YouTube versions with nice Russian ladies showing you, step by step (in Russian) how to make and assemble this very handsome dish. Your best option is to use a spring form pan, without its bottom but sitting directly on the serving plate you intend to use. The quantities here will fill a ten inch spring form, so judge accordingly if you would like a smaller serving.
What you will need:
1. Herring. If you are lucky enough to find whole, boned herring fillets, salted and packed in oil, then buy them. Otherwise, pickled herring in a wine sauce will do nicely. Two 12 ounce jars.
2. Three or four good size (your guess) Yukon Gold potatoes.
3. Three humongous carrots, or four or five really big ones.
4. Three or four large beets.
5. Five hard boiled eggs
6. One medium sized yellow onion.
7. Lots and lots of good home-made mayonnaise, plain and a bit thinner than Hellman’s
Prepare the herring:
Empty the jars of pickled herring into a sieve or bowl and rinse several times, or let it soak and then rinse. Pick out the herring pieces and discard the onion bits.
Chop your fresh onion into a fairly fine dice, and then chop the herring pieces into a small dice (but not into a pulp) and then mix with chopped onion and set aside.
Prepare the vegetables:
In the “old country,” they boil and then peel; here we peel the potatoes, carrots and beets first, and then boil them. Some people suggest doing it in one big pot, you may prefer separate pots. They should be boiled until easily pierced. You will be grating them, so don’t let them get mushy. Drain and cool after done and set aside. When thoroughly cool, you grate each vegetable with a box grater and set aside on a separate plate/dish.
Prepare hard boiled eggs by bringing them to a boil, cover, remove from heat and let sit fifteen minutes. Then run under cold water and set aside. When thoroughly chilled, you may peel and grate and set aside.
From some of the Russian YouTube versions, it appears this is a mayonnaise salad with bits of vegetable and herring. A good, simple food processor mayonnaise works well:
– one whole egg
– one tablespoon of Dijon mustard
– one teaspoon of salt
– half a fresh lemon squeezed
all into the bowl of the food processor. Set it running and gradually add in a thin stream one cup of corn oil, or some other lighter oil of your choosing. Set aside.
Oil the inside of the spring form ring (closed) and place on your serving platter.
First layer: grated potato, evenly about a quarter inch or so, spread and pushed down (I use a potato masher for each layer). Salt and pepper to taste, and then spread a layer of mayonnaise over it.
Second layer: herring with onion, spread and mashed down, topped with more mayonnaise.
Third layer: grated carrot, salt and pepper to taste, and more mayonnaise
Fourth layer: grated beets, salt, pepper and mayonnaise.
Fifth layer: grated hard boil eggs, more mayonnaise.
If you have divided your ingredients evenly, you will now have enough for another layer of each item, or at least of the carrots, beets and eggs. Top off with mayonnaise, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate; a day is best.
Remove from refrigerator, run a knife along the inside of the spring form, open the form and carefully remove to reveal the beautiful layers.
You can probably think of many variations. One would be to add some salmon roe (or caviar if you are amongst the “one percent”) to the herring layers.
Serve on plates and with a good thick black, brown or rye bread.