Dressed herring salad is a delicious layered salad made with pickled herrings, boiled potatoes, carrots, beets, and mayo. This appetizer salad is a staple Christmas and New Year's Eve dish in Ukraine and other eastern European countries.
It's also called herring under a fur coat or "shuba" salad. This salad is one of my favorite dishes from childhood. "Shuba" is a Ukrainian word that translates as "fur coat". Potatoes, beets, and carrots cover the diced herring fillets as if the fish is wearing a coat.
We used to make it for every holiday feast, especially on Christmas and New Year's Eve.
I visited my family in Ukraine 6 years ago, and this was the first food my aunt made for me, as she knows how much I love "Shuba".
The combination of pickled herring and veggies sounds quite unusual, but I promise it tastes amazing.
Living in the United States, I still make it at least once a year, alongside this Olivier Potato Salad.
This herring beet salad is usually served as an appetizer. It also can be enjoyed as a light meal.
There are a few ways to make it as the choice of vegetables, and the order of layers can slightly differ.
Today, I present you my way to make my favorite herring salad. This is the recipe my mom and grandma made back in Ukraine.
See the recipe card below for the ingredients' quantities.
You can find the best herring fish for "shuba" at the Eastern European store. Just ask for salted herrings in oil. It will come in a plastic tray, not a jar. European herring is usually cured only with salt and oil to preserve its freshness. The texture is similar to the cold smoked salmon.
You can also use American pickled herrings in a dill sauce. This herring will have a slightly sour and salty taste and the fillet pieces will have the texture of a cooked fish.
Today, I will use the one I got at Whole Foods to show that it can be made with both types of herring. But if I have an option, I always use Eastern European herrings.
And if you are not a fan of herring fish, use smoked salmon or even canned tuna. The salad will have a slightly different flavor because of the smoked fish, but it will still taste delicious.
Boiled root vegetables
You will need potatoes, carrots, and beets. All the vegetables need to be boiled whole in water until fully cooked. Since they will need to cool down completely for the dish, I usually boil them the night before and store them in the fridge until ready to use the next day.
Beets will take the longest to boil. If you have Instant Pot, follow this instant pot beets recipe. So much easier and faster than cooking it on a stove.
You can also use my Instant Pot boiled potatoes recipe to cook the whole potatoes. They come out perfectly soft and do not fall apart.
Any type of potatoes will work, but for the best results use waxy types, such as Yellow or Yukon Gold.
A full-fat high-quality mayo is the best one to use. Mayo will be spread over the layers of vegetables and on top of the salad. This is the only dressing this salad will need. You can use more or less by taste. As the salad sets in the fridge, it will absorb the mayo and will make it taste even better. Some people also sprinkle a little bit of salt and black pepper over each layer of vegetables. Just be careful with the salt, as herrings are usually very salty and more likely you will not need to add it.
How to make it
Boil vegetables - rinse potatoes, carrots, and beets under cold water. Do not peel or cut them. In two separate large pots, beets, potatoes, and carrots. Pour enough water to cover the vegetables.
Bring to a boil and cook on medium-low heat until fork tender. Check on the carrots in 15-20 minutes and remove them to cool down if cooked before the potatoes.
Whole medium potatoes will take about 30 minutes to boil. The beets can take up to 40-60 minutes. That's why I boil the beets separately from the rest of the veggies. If the water evaporates from the pot and the beets are still not tender, pour more water to cover the beetroots.
When the vegetables are cooked, cool them down and peel them.
Dice the herring - remove any bones if present and dice the herring fillets into ¼-1/2 inch cubes.
Make the layers - in a square glass dish or a large deep round plate, add a layer of cubed herring. Now, grate boiled potatoes over the fish, using a box grater. Spread a thin layer of mayo on top of the potatoes.
Now, grate the carrots on top of the potatoes, followed by the beets. Some, add another layer of mayo between the carrots and beets, but I usually skip it. Grated beets should cover the whole salad completely. Spread the last layer of mayo over the beets and let the salad set in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.
I often use my instant pot to boil the beets and potatoes. But you can cook all the veggies on your stove. Another way is to baked them wrapped in foil.
A box grater is a must to grate the veggies. It is so easy to use and clean. Some people finely dice the veggies into small cubes for "shuba", but grating is more common, and it tastes better.
For serving, I like to use a medium Pyrex dish as it is clear to show the layers and has a lid to cover tightly to store in the fridge.
Very often, I make it in a large dinner bowl with high rims.
If you want to make "shuba" look festive, use a small cake spring without the base. Just place the mold on a flat plate and assemble the layers on top. Remove the mold when ready to serve. The salad will stand tall with all layers visible.
- Use a box grater to grate the vegetables.
- You can use smoked salmon instead of herring.
- Wear food grade disposable gloves to peel and grate the beet to avoid stains on hands.
- When the layers are assembled, use a paper towel to wipe any stains on the rims of the serving bowl for more esthetic look.
- Store tightly covered for up to 3 days in the fridge.
How to store
Dressed herring salad is so much better when it sets for a couple of hours in the fridge.
Do not leave the dish at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
If you made the salad in a cake spring form, you can carefully transfer the leftovers into the container using a silicone spatula without ruining the layers.
If you boil the vegetables ahead of time, store them tightly covered in the fridge until ready to use.
How to serve
This large herring salad is usually served as an appetizer on holidays or for any big event. And of course, it can be made at any day of the week, especially in winter.
Serve it as a side dish alongside mashed potatoes, pork roast or even with sandwiches.
Leftovers are great to enjoy as a simple lunch with just a slice of bread.
Other recipes with beets
Dressed Herring Salad
- 2 large pots
- 1 Box grater
- 1 large container or a plate with high rims
- 1 pound pickled herring
- 3 medium potatoes
- 2 large carrots or 3 medium
- 3 medium beets
- ¾ cup mayo or as needed for layers
- Boil whole potatoes, carrots and beets until fork-tender. I usually boil carrots and potatoes together and the beets in separate pot. The beets will take 45-60 minutes. Cool down and peel the vegetables.
- Chop the herring into small pieces. Start by placing the layer of diced herring at the bottom of the container or a plate. Now, grate the potatoes on top. Spread a thin layer of mayo on top of the potatoes, followed by grated carrots. Lastly, grate the beets as the last layer. Spread the remaining mayo on top.
- Let the salad set before serving for at least one hour. Enjoy as an appetizer or a light meal.
- cook the vegetables the night before.
- you can use smoked salmon instead of herring.
- store the leftovers in airtight container for up to 3 days.