Russian Shuba Salad Verrines
AKA Fur Coat Salad
My Nana (paternal grandmother) was born in Kiev in 1894. She was an excellent cook, but she never served a Shuba Salad…most likely due to the fact that it was invented after the time her family fled to escape the pogroms when she was a young girl.
The story has it that sometime in the early 1900s, a restaurateur in Moscow named Anastas Bogomilov created the dish to calm and satiate his rowdy vodka-drunk customers.
Striking, super-flavorful, layered Shuba Salad is often served for Christmas and New Year’s now, and traditionally made with chopped pickled herring. Although I am a fan of pickled herring, here I substituted an appetizing fish with broader appeal, smoked salmon. Today, January 7th, is Orthodox Christmas – celebrated in Russia, Ukraine, and many central and eastern European countries as well as other parts of the world. It’s time to enjoy some Shuba!
The dish’s intriguing name “Herring Under a Fur Coat” is translated to English from seledka pod shuboi or shuba. Shuba means fur coat in Russian, here the fish is nestled under a coating of fluffy soft vegetables and dressing.
Nana did wear a fluffy Russian Sable Fur Coat to protect her against Chicago’s harshest winters, but alas, despite my Russian ancestry, there was no Shuba Salad in my youth…but I am more than happy to have discovered it now.
Fur Coat Salad Recipe
- hot-smoked salmon, flaked
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- boiled potato, medium dice
- onion, fine dice
- carrot, grated
- dressing = 1/2 mayonnaise + 1/2 sour cream + prepared horseradish
- cooked beets, grated
- hard-cooked egg white and yolk, sieved
This layered salad can be made in a springform pan, trifle bowl, or even free-hand on a platter. I am composing it in individual glass goblets to better show off the pretty colorful layers and for ease of serving.
Place smoked salmon flakes in the bottom of glass goblets or jars. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Lightly season potatoes, carrots, and beets with salt and pepper. Layer next with potato, then a smaller amount of onion. Continue to layer with carrot, then dressing (don’t skimp), and finish with beet. Garnish with egg and dill.
Chilled vodka really does make a terrific accompaniment.