The Feast of Seven Fishes: “Fur Coat” Dressed Salted Herring
January 5, 2015
Fur Coat is one of my the most favorite winter salads. In my mind, winter holidays are not complete without it.
Traditionally, this salad is made with diced salted herring covered with layers of diced boiled potatoes, carrots, and beet roots. Chopped onions or scallions add some sharpness, and layers of mayonnaise round everything up. This salad has a well balanced combination of salty, sweet, earthy, and pungent flavors. Some recipes include diced green apples, adding a sour note and making the taste of every bite even more complex.
I constantly look for different ways to make the layers of this salad visually appealing. When all the vegetables are cooked to perfection and diced uniformly, the best approach is to layer this salad individually portioned.
Last year, I served it using potato skins as a base. It was one of successful ideas in terms of playing with food and with words — a tribute to my father and brother, military officers. Russian name for potatoes cooked with skin on is “в мундирах”, or “dressed in military jacket”. Thus, potato skin was symbolic and functional, holding all the layers perfectly well and making this appetizer a true finger food.
This year I experimented with thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, and young beets. The rest of ingredients — salted herring, eggs, onions, and mayo — were incorporated into binding layers.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake vegetables wrapped in foil (make a separate packet for beet roots) for 2 hours. Let them cool down to room temperature. They’ll sweat and you’ll be able to peel them easier.
Blend seasoned egg whites and yolks and cook an omelette on low heat in a lightly buttered nonstick skillet. Four large eggs will make a 9″-diameter 1/8″ thick omelette. Let it cool down to room temperature.
Mince a de-boned herring fillet.
Mince scallions. Mix 2 Tbs of scallions with 2 Tbs of mayo. Reserve the rest of scallions for garnishing.
Peel and slice the vegetables 1/8″ thick. Place them on a cutting board. Dot potato slices with minced herring, beets — with scallions and mayo mix, carrots — with mayo.
It is easy to assemble these appetizers using a 1.5″ round cookie cutter. Cut and stack the layers inside its cylinder. Start with the omelette, than cut a carrot slice, beetroot, and finally potato.
Repeat it twice for each portion. Gently push completed layers out of the cutter and spear them with bamboo stick.
Important! Salted herring can be found in Russian/Eastern-European food stores. Marinated or pickled herring can’t be used for this salad/appetizer.