Jul 23, 2015

Comi-kitsch: Herring in Fur Coat

Italians grew up with Ai frutti di Mare; French - Beouf Bourguignon. My iron curtained past personified by Herring in Fur Coat. A pickled hearing dressed in seven layers of pungent veggie swagger.

Nothing embodies the kitsch of Soviet life, the outrageously tacky and overdone ways better then this playful dish. It's taste and color was a stark contradiction to the dreary life. The people, naively optimistic and desperate to get a kick out of color-grey-Comi-collage, served this magenta salad as a center piece at any gathering or celebration.

The Empire may be gone, but this souvenir from the Motherland has made it; from the communal flats of Kiev and Moscow to New York, Melbourne and Monte Carlo. Where the people go, Herring in Fur Coat goes too.

You  may think your palate is not ready for experiment. But baked beats, mixed with grated waxy potatoes and carrots, boiled eggs and home made mayonnaise on a bed of pickled herring flavored with onion and dill, is a surprisingly delightful entree.


Ingredients (for 20 cm diameter dish)
  • 1 medium beetroot
  • 1 large potato, such as Yukon Gold or 2 large fingerling potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 egg, hard-boiled
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish onion, diced
  • 1 fillet of pickled or salted herring in oil
  • dill, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (ideally homemade)
  • salt to taste

Directions
  1. Roast beetroot wrapped in foil, until tender at the center.
  2. Cook potato and peeled carrot, until 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. In a small bowl, mix together the diced herring, chopped dill, diced Spanish 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. Set aside. Clean the sieve and now do the same with the yolks. Place in a separate bowl.
  5. When vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel skin off potato, grate it and set aside. 
  6. Grate carrot. Place in another small bowl. 
  7. Peel and grate the beetroot and set aside.

Assembly 

  1. Before assembling, check if all are room temperature. 
  2. Place your hearing mixture the bottom of your dish. Use the back of the a spoon to smooth it out so it forms an even layer. Season with salt.
  3. Add the grated potatoes. Level with the spoon again.
  4. Add the grated beetroot and level again. Season with salt.
  5. Garnish with egg white, egg yolks and any leftover dill. 
  6. Serve immediately.