Herring under a Fur Coat

Of course, I could not ignore a dish with such a freaky name! This is not my sick imagination, but another actual staple of any Russian celebration. It does take fucking time to prepare, but it is totally worth it. That is, if you like fish. Especially herring. Especially salted herring.

There is also a very subtle linguistic twist in the name – the herring is not IN the coat, it is UNDER it.  This is not a wrap-around dish, and the perverts among us can immediately start picturing a beautiful succulent fish, languidly sprawling under a lush fur coat, ready to be devoured by lusting eyes.  Whatever.  It’s fucking delicious – take my word for it.

Just like with Olivier, the resulting product will easily feed a group of 10, or a small family for a couple of days.  It is usually prepared a day before, kept in a fridge overnight, and then devoured over the New Year/Christmas holidays.  You eat the herring (or simply “The Fur Coat”, as it is often referred to by those in the know) in small pieces, enjoying every bite, and then coming back for more.

There are also numerous versions of Herring under a Fur Coat circulating around.  I’ve seen them with apples instead of potatoes, with jellied or even pureed herring (I want to puke right now!), but these are all perversions that need to be avoided.  Here is a classic beauty of a recipe, with all the easy, tried and tested ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

Even though we don’t need much of each ingredient, the resulting dish would be quite big.  If you want to try the impossible and make just “a little bit” of Herring under a Fur Coat – dare to half them!

  • 250 gr Matjes herring fillets (in oil or without, but as virgin as possible – no fucked up dill, cream, or other additives).  Also, read the pack carefully – you DO NOT need pickled herrings, they will make your dish taste disgusting!  Mildly salted is what you need to go for!
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, boiled in skins
  • 1 big carrot, boiled in skin
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 medium-sized beetroots (you can be my guest and boil the fucker yourself [will take you about a full day], or be a lazy bastard and buy the already boiled whole one in the store.  Make sure it is NOT fucking pickled!
  • ½ lemon
  • mayonnaise (best get one in a tube or a plastic bag that you can squeeze it out of, not in a fucking glass jar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Start the day before. 

If you have an artistic gene, this dish will allow it to flourish.  For the best visual results, make sure that the layers you will be creating are clearly visible from the sides.  If you are lazy, and have one of those cake forms that you can take out afterwards – this will save you the stress.  If you don’t have anything – just be fucking careful, when putting ingredients on top of one another.  Good luck!

  • Boil potatoes, carrot and eggs, let them cook the fuck down, and only then peel.  Drain the herring fillets from oil or whatever they fucking came in.
  • Chop the fillets into small cubes, chop the onion the same way, mix that shit up in a small bowl, squeeze half a lemon onto it, mix again, and set the fuck aside.  It’s time will come soon!
  • Find flat dish for assembling your Herring under a Fur Coat, and start layering this shit down.
  • Unlike with Olivier, you will not need to be doing a lot of chopping – this recipe is for lazy fuckers!  Grate the 2 potatoes on a graters, and gently spread out on the plate.  Do NOT pat it down – leave the potatoes fluffy!  Sprinkle with a little bit of salt (you did not salt it while cooking), and then put a thin layer of mayonnaise over it.  Again, do NOT smother the mayonnaise or pat it down – the best is to just squeeze some around from a tube, or use one of those icing piping bags, if you did not read the list of ingredients carefully, and bought mayo in a jar.
  • Next goes a layer of herring mixed with onions.  Spread that shit around over the potato layer, and cover with a thin layer of mayo.
  • Grate the boiled eggs on a grater, and spread over the herring mix, creating the next layer of your Herring under a Fur Coat.   Do NOT pat down, leave the eggs layer fluffy, but make sure it covers the previous fish layer.  Cover the eggs with a thin layer (or a fish-net design) or mayonnaise.
  • Grate the carrots, and make the next layer, covering the eggs without patting anything down.  All the layers need to be fluffy and breathable, to allow for the dish to soak in the mayo, and rich the required consistency.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt, and cover with a slightly thicker layer of mayo.
  • Last layer – beetroot!  Grate that shit, and lay over the carrots, covering the previous layer completely.  Cover with a thick layer of mayonnaise.  This time, don’t fucking bother about fluffiness; you can smother that shit around with the back of a tablespoon.  Make sure the beetroot is completely covered.
  • Leave the dish the fuck alone for 1-2 hours at room temperature.
  • Then put it away in a fridge (do not cover!), and let it sit there overnight, absorbing the juicy goodness of mayo that you so generously put in.

SERVING

You cut the Herring under a Fur Coat like a cake, serving it in squares of about 5-7cm x 5-7cm.  If you want more than one – don’t be shy.  The dish can happily sit in the fridge a couple of days until eaten.

Two servings of Herring under a Fur Coat

Russian “Olivier” Salad

First of all, it is not fucking possible to make just “a little bit” of Olivier.  No matter how much you restrain yourself, and how much you half the ingredients from the list, you will end up with a huge bowl of stuff.  But don’t you worry – you will eat it all!

“Olivier” is a staple of every fucking Russian New Year’s celebration table.  It is cooked for birthdays and other occasions as well, but a New Year’s Eve without a huge bowl of Olivier is un-fucking-imaginable!  You will eat at least half a bowl while seeing the new year in, will then lay on the couch huffing and puffing like a beached whale, and will happily consume the remaining half a bowl over the next few days for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Yes, it is THIS fucking good!

There are probably as many versions of “Olivier”, as there are people who cook it.  Some use chicken, some use beef, others swear by boiled sausage of even spam.  Every Russian loves and cherishes their recipe and despises everybody else’s.  Here is the “Olivier” I know and love, including my Mom’s secret ingredient – a green fucking apple.

A modest-size bowl for Olivier preparation

INGREDIENTS

Most ingredients are easy to get, but it’s the right proportions that make the winner in an “Olivier”-making competition.

  • 4 big potatoes (at least a fist’s size) boiled in skins
  • 1 big carrot (a minimum of 20 cm long), or 2 medium ones, boiled in skin
  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled
  • 2 chicken breasts (~500 gr), boiled
  • 1 jar of canned sweet peas (~400 gr)
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 1 medium-sized fresh cucumber (not of the gigantic dildo variety, but a garden-grown type)
  • 3-4 relatively big salted cucumbers (do NOT under any circumstances use pickled ones!  Outside of Russia you can buy salted cucumbers in Russian, Ukrainian or Polish shops.)
  • ½ of green apple (Granny Smith, or other non-sweet variety), peeled
  • A bunch of dill and parsley, chopped
  • Mayonnaise (good-quality store-bought that you like, no need to make your own – too much fucking stress!) to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Some of the Olivier ingredients – more carrots, eggs, and cucumbers were added in the process

PREPARATION

You will have to work hard for your Olivier and sing for your supper.  A lot (and I mean a FUCKING lot!) of chopping will be involved, and it will easily take an un-trained individual up to several hours.  Every Russian kid served the pre-New Year duty in the kitchen, and can chop this shit up in record time and with amazing quality.  The most common question I get from my non-Russian friends, who were introduced to the joys of Olivier was “How the fuck did you manage to chop everything up in such small and even cubes?…”  Practice, bitches, years of fucking practice!!!

  • So, you boiled everything that needs to be boiled (make sure the potatoes are just right and not over-boiled – otherwise you don’t stand a chance in hell on the chopping front!), cool that shit down.  All ingredients need to be cold before you fucking lay hands on them.
  • Peel the potatoes and carrot(s).  Peel the eggs.  Drain the peas.
  • And now comes the chopping time!!!!  The drained peas can be left alone, but everything else (including boiled eggs) has to be chopped into small (under 1 cm) cubes.  I am sure you can find YouTube videos to discover the mysteries of Olivier chopping.  Good luck with that!
  • Throw everything into a big bowl (the bigger the better), and mix carefully, making sure you don’t fucking destroy those cubes you worked so hard to chop!

SERVING

  • Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix in the mayonnaise.  A good Olivier is not swimming in mayo, so do not fucking overdo it!.  Also, if you are not planning to eat the whole bowl in one sitting, it is advisable to only put mayo into what you are going to eat.  The rest can safely sit in the fridge for a couple of days – you add the mayo when you want to eat it, otherwise the whole thing will turn into a fucking disaster.
  • Sprinkle with chopped dill and parsley and serve in whichever fucking way you want.  If you want to be fancy – take nice plates out, and form the Olivier on them using a medium-sized cup (fill it up with Olivier, cover with the inverted plate, and turn that shit over.  Voila!  Every kindergarten graduate skilled in making sand pies will know what I am talking about.)  It is not uncommon to eat Olivier right out of the bowl, lovingly hugging it and guarding it from the rest of the family.
    Whatever rocks your boat.  Enjoy!

P.S. You don’t have to drink vodka with this.  You can, if you want, of course, but in fact, prosecco (of the cheaper variety) is a much more common pairing to the Olivier!