Herring under a fur coat or Russian Shuba Salad

 It sounds funny and may be a little weird, but that’s how we called a very popular salad in Russia. Exactly under a fur coat, not in. 🙂 I can’t imagine Russian New Year celebration without this salad. Another nickname or short name of the salad is ‘shuba’, that means fur coat in Russian.
The main ingredients are beets, potatoes and lightly salted herring; the salad is composed of vegetable layers coated with mayonnaise. Nowadays, ‘shuba’ has undergone a number of changes, one add hard-boiled eggs, another omit onions or add  an apple. But the one thing is still constant – the salad is incredibly favoured and beloved by many Russians!
Shuba Salad
 A legend says that such salad was created by a merchant Anastas Bogomilov, who was an owner of the popular tavern and restaurant chain in Moscow at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a time of The Civil War and Revolution in Russia, and taverns’ visitors discussed the Russian future with patriotic fervour, so they became furious and began to fight. And of course, they broke some furniture and smashed plates during their drunken brawls. To avoid it, a merchant devised a stratagem – to make a well-nourishing zakuska (a starter) and a symbol of the public union in one dish. Thus, one of his cooks – Aristarkh Prokopcev prepared and served a new salad ‘shuba’ at the New 1918 Year eve, where red color of beetroots symbolized the red flag, and potatoes were the food of workers and peasants. Shuba was an abbreviation, first letters of a slogan; Sh for Chauvinism, U for Decay, B for Boycott, A for Anathema. Visitors and guests liked this salad and began to order it often. As the salad were fatty, guests couldn’t got drunk very fast, thus scuffles happened rarely and furniture was left untouched.
 Long after, people forgot the origins of the salad, but it became an integral part of the festive new year table.
Russian layered salad - Shuba
Here is my version of the ‘herring under a fur coat’. For the dressing, I usually use only sour cream (it’s healthier), but you can substitute it with mayonnaise, or make it 50/50. Also I add an grated apple – the salad gets freshness, but for someone an apple is unnecessary here. The choice is up to you.

Herring under a fur coat or Russian Shuba Salad

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
200-300g herring fillet, lightly salted
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 large potatoes, skin on and boiled
2 large beetroot, skin on, boiled or roasted
1 medium carrot, skin on and boiled
1-2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped or grated, optional
1 juicy and sour apple (granny smith is great), coarsely grated, optional
100-150ml (15-20% fat) sour cream, or as much as you like
2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise, optional
1 tsp dijon mustard, optional
salt, pepper to taste
dill, parsley or chives, optional
Preparation method
  1. For the dressing, mix all ingredients and season to taste, or use only sour cream. You can spread the dressing with a tablespoon, or use a piping bag.
  2. Cover chopped onion with hot water and soak for 5-10 minutes, it helps to remove the bitterness. Then drain water.
  3. Drain any liquid from herring. Cut herring fillet into small cubes. Make the first layer – arrange herring on a serving plate. Spread onion on herring.
  4. Peel vegetables and coarsely grate or finely chop.
  5. Arrange a layer of potatoes. Cover with dressing. Also you can make potatoes the very first layer, if desired.
  6. Spread eggs, if using, and lightly cover with dressing. Also you can top finished salad with eggs.
  7. Arrange a layer of carrot. Cover with dressing.
  8. Arrange a layer of apple. Lightly cover with dressing.
  9. Finish with a layer of beet. You can only top with grated beetroot, or complitely cover the salad. Spread evenly some dressing.
  10. Garnish with chopped dill or chives, if desired.

The salad becomes much better if you refrigerate it overnight (cover the salad with a foil) or for a few hours.

Herring under a fur coat
I’m linking this wonderful, tasty and festive salad to Fiesta Friday.


  1. Amanda says:

    What a beautiful dish. You present it so well. It looks perfect and colorful. I love the history too! What a festive, healthy meal. I can see why they call it fur coat. It’s gotta be so so cold in Russia on New Years!

  2. Darya says:

    I also prefer less dressing and no mayo, and your version of seledka pod shuboj looks fantastic. Love, love, love the addition of tart apple. Wonderful recipe!

  3. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #46 | The Novice Gardener

  4. Hilda says:

    Your presentation of this wonderful salad is so beautiful. Love the combinations of vegetables with herring. I am planning to do some Russian dishes over the holidays, so will keep this one in mind for sure.

  5. Pingback: Happy New Year | milkandbun

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  7. john machado says:

    My favorite salad ever. I lived over there for many years and this is a staple. I have not tried your version, but it looks great. I wonder, however, about the omission of fresh garlic. The garlic ‘bite’ of this salad is a signature flavor, like a LOT of fresh-grated garlic. Thanks. The picture makes me hungry!

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