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Go to Foreigners in Russia / RT projects / Russiapedia / Of Russian origin / Herring under fur coat

Of Russian origin: Herring under fur coat

Photo by shuba-ru.bizPhoto by

New Year celebrations are loved the world over. Virtually wherever you are in the world, it’s an opportunity to get together with friends and family, drink, eat, sing, dance, let off a few fireworks and generally make merry.

But there are many subtle variants which differentiate one nation’s celebrations from another’s.

Here in Russia, New Year is possibly the biggest public holiday of them all. The country literally shuts down from December 31st until Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. Modes of welcoming in the New Year differ across the country – in the capital, it’s tradition to drink a glass of champagne in Red Square. But one unifying element, which appears on party tables everywhere, is the much loved salad, “Selyodka Pod Shuboy”.

To the bemusement of foreigners, this literally translates as “Herring under a fur coat”. Be assured, while this traditional salad does indeed contain herring, traces of fur are still to be found! However the name does successfully evoke the heavy layering of vegetables that cover the herring. An alternative name is simply “dressed herring salad”.

This dish was often served by Soviet Jews on Shabbat and after Yom Kippur, when Jewish rituals had to be practiced in secret. It has remained popular to this day and the best way for you to discover why, is to try it yourself!

How to make

When preparing to make selyodka pod shuboy for a group of 12, you will need:

  • Schmaltz herring fillets, totaling about 12 ounces
  • Milk for soaking
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, boiled until tender, and diced
  • 12 ounces canned pickled beets, drained and diced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, grated
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Slices of rye or pumpernickel bread for accompaniment

Place the herring in a large bowl and add milk to cover. Soak for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, then drain. Finely chop the herring and set aside.

Photo from http://www.zapekankin.ruPhoto from

In the center of a medium platter, arrange half of the potatoes into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Top this with a layer of half the pickled beets and then a layer of half the apples. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the apples. Add a layer of half the carrots, followed with a layer of half the eggs, a layer of half the onions, and finally all of the chopped herring.

Cover the herring with a layer of the remaining onions, followed by the remaining eggs, and then the remaining carrots. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the carrots. Top this with a layer of the remaining apples, then the remaining pickled beets, and finally the remaining potatoes. Coat the entire salad with the remaining mayonnaise. Garnish the stacked salad with the parsley.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Slice into wedges and serve with slices of rye or pumpernickel bread.

 Written by Alice Hibbert, RT news anchor and correspondent