Herring under a Fur Coat

I recently spent two weeks on a mission trip in Vienna, Austria working with students who are studying in a theologian degree program with TCMI International Institute. These students come from mostly Eastern European countries to spend some much needed rest time in the Vienna Woods while attending classes towards their degree. We, as short-term workers, are there to take care of their everyday needs such as meals, housekeeping and maintenance of the campus so they may concentrate on their studies.

This year we had 57 students from 11 different countries. One of my greatest joys is to meet these students and learn about their family and their ministries. They are always willing to share traditions and especially food dishes from their native homeland. As I sat at meals with the students, I made a point to ask them which of their country’s traditional dishes they would like me to spotlight on my food blog. It’s a blessing to see their faces light up when they talk about their favorite dish and reminisce about a family member who makes the best one.

So, for the next 11 days I will be spotlighting each of these countries and a traditional dish in honor of these students and their love for their homeland. I encourage you to try some of these dishes and if you like them, do further research on that particular country’s cuisine. You may find a new favorite recipe or two for your family!

Spotlight: Russia

Dish: Herring under a Fur Coat

Dressed herring, colloquially known as herring under a fur coat is a layered salad composed of diced pickled herring covered with layers of grated boiled vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beet roots), chopped onions, and mayonnaise. Some variations of this dish include a layer of fresh grated apple while some do not. Grated boiled beet root covered with mayonnaise as a final layer gives the salad a rich purple color. Dressed herring salad is often decorated with grated boiled eggs (whites, yolks, or both).

Is that the best recipe name ever or what? I just had to include this recipe because of its name. Like the borscht, it is very popular in Russia and Ukraine. It is a traditional dish served for New Year and Christmas celebrations.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium beet
  • 1 Yukon Gold or 2 large fingerling potatoes
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 large egg, hard-boiled
  • 1-2 tablespoons sweet onion, small diced
  • 1 fillet of salted herring in oil (pickled herring can be substituted)
  • 1-2 tablespoons dill, rough chopped plus a couple sprigs for garnish
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
  • Kosher salt

Preparation:

  1. Roast beet wrapped in foil on a sheet tray at 350 degrees F until knife tender at the center (about 1-2 hours).
  2. Place potato and peeled carrot in saucepan and cover with water. Cook on stovetop until knife tender.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, make the herring mixture: Remove fillet from package and reserve 2 tablespoons of the oil. If using pickled herring, you will need 2 tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil. Dice the herring fillet into ¼” pieces. In a small bowl, mix together the diced herring, chopped dill, diced sweet onion and reserved oil. Set aside.
  4. Peel the hard-boiled egg. Separate the white from the yolk. Using a spoon or your hand, push the whites through the mesh of a sieve. Place in small bowl. Clean the sieve and now use the same technique on the yolks. Place in a separate bowl.
  5. When cool enough to handle, peel skin off potato and grate with box grater. Place in small bowl. Clean box grater and grate carrot. Place in another small bowl. When beet is cooked through and cool enough to handle, peel skin and grate with box grater. Place in a third small bowl.
  6. Place mayonnaise in small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the grated beets. Mix together.

Assembly:

  1. Before assembling, check to make sure all the cooked vegetables have cooled to room temperature.
  2. Place ring mold in center of plate.
  3. Place ¼ cup of grated potato inside of mold. Using the back of a spoon, smooth out the potato so it is level.  Season with salt.
  4. Add ¼ cup of herring mixture. Make level with spoon.
  5. Add two tablespoons of grated carrot. Make level with spoon.
  6. Now add ¼ cup of grated beet and level. Season with salt.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of beet mayonnaise mixture. Smooth with spoon.
  8. Garnish with sieved egg white, egg yolks and reserved dill sprig. Carefully pull ring mold straight up.
  9. Wash ring mold and dry with towel. Repeat assembly steps to make a second terrine.
  10. Serve immediately.

Using the same layering technique, this recipe can be assembled in a casserole dish ahead of time instead of a ring mold. Wait until serving to garnish with egg and dill.

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