Herring under a Fur Coat recipe history culture origin

An individual portion showing the layers created. Сельдь под шубой ‒ один из патриархов новогоднего стола, неизменно составляющий компанию праздничным оливье, шампанскому и мандаринам. Салат этот имеет множество вариаций: каждая хозяйка привносит в него что-то свое, меняя ингредиенты и порядок их расположения.

Herring Under A Fur Coat: A Hearty New Year’s Tradition

Published: August 5, 2018

Potatoes, herring, beets, and mayonnaise come together to create the beloved Herring under a Fur Coat (селёдка под шубой), served at nearly every special occasion in the post-Soviet space. It was first seen in the early days of the Soviet Union. However, what is most unusual about the salad is its bright purple color, which comes from the top layer of beets and mayonnaise.

How the Salad Got Its Name

(Почему салат носит такое название?)

According to legend, Herring under a Fur Coat was first introduced in Moscow in 1918 and was originally known simply as ШУБА.

The story goes like this: Anastas Bogomilov, a merchant who owned cafes in Moscow and Tver, noticed that his customers would drink heavily and begin to debate the fate of the country in the early post-revolution months. These discussions often ended in fights, where Mr. Bogomilov’s glasses and dishes were broken. A chef at one of his cafes offered to create a hearty snack, which would sober up the customers and thus reduce the number of fights. The result was “ШУБА.”

The ingredients used were meant to symbolize unity within the new Soviet society — the pickled herring, symbolizing the proletariat, potatoes, symbolizing the farmers, and the blood-red beets, symbolizing Communism over the top. The name “ШУБА” was an acronym for “Шовинизиму и Упадку — Бойкот и Анафема” (To Chauvinism and Decadence, a Boycott and a Ban). According to some versions of the legend, the salad was even introduced on December 31, 1918 to keep the New Year’s revelers in check – thus adding to the salad’s credentials as a holiday staple.

Since its creation, the political meaning of the name has dropped. Now people call it Herring under a Fur Coat”, which literally means “herring under a fur coat.” As the top layer is made of shredded beets, the dish does indeed have a passably “furry” appearance.

Additional ingredients have since been added to the dish – onions, carrots, pickles, even eggs and apples, for instance. However, in all cases, the salad remains a very inexpensive and hearty comfort food – a true salad of the people.

When and How to Eat Herring under a Fur Coat

(Как правильно есть салат «Селёдка под шубой»?)

Throughout the Post-Soviet World, “Новый Год” (New Year’s) is undoubtedly the most celebrated and beloved holiday. Families put up a New Year’s Tree, called а “ёлка” (Yolka), people give each other gifts, children sing and recite poems, and, of course, there is a big feast with family and friends. Herring under a Fur Coat, together with another mayonnaise-based salad, салат «Оливье» (Olivier Salad), can be found on almost every holiday table throughout the Russian-speaking world on this important holiday.

Herring under a Fur Coat recipe history culture origin
A standard presentation of селёдка под шубой.

Under the Soviet Union, this salad was almost exclusively associated with New Years, but now it is also served at other holidays, birthday parties, and can even be purchased at most deli counters in Russian supermarkets on any given day.

How to Prepare Herring under a Fur Coat

(Как правильно готовить салат «Селедка под шубой»?)

When preparing Herring under a Fur Coat, be sure you allow time for it to sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. This allows the mayonnaise to soak through everything, giving the salad a jelly-like consistency and allowing the flavors to mix.

The final salad should look like a layered cake. When you add layers of mayonnaise, do it as if you were icing a cake.

The vegetables are always boiled with the skins on. This helps preserve the color, flavor, texture, and nutritional value of the vegetables. They should be cooked until the skins are soft and peel off easily. All the boiled vegetables are peeled before being added to the salad – including the carrots. You should be able to take off the skins quite easily with a paring knife or even with your bare hands.

The salad is often garnished with such ingredients as egg yolks, carrots, herbs, or even shredded apples. These additions are optional and can be added to taste.

Vegetarians can replace the herring with avocado and vegans can use mayonnaise made from oil rather than eggs, although neither substitution is considered “traditional.”

Herring under a Fur Coat Recipe

(Давай Приготовим!)

Селедка под шубой Herring under a Fur Coat
  • Сельдь крупная жирная—2 шт
  • Картофель—3-4 шт
  • Свёкла—2 шт
  • Морковь—2 шт
  • Лук репчатый (лучше салатный)—1 шт
  • Желтки яичные (для украшения)—3 шт
  • Майонез


  1. Промываем и отвариваем картошку, свёклу и морковь в кожуре до готовности.
  2. Рыбу разделываем на филе, удаляем шкурку и косточки, режем мелкими кубиками.
  3. Дно формы или тарелки, на которую будем выкладывать салат, смачиваем водой.
  4. Затем ровным слоем раскладываем селёдку.
  5. Очищенную луковицу крошим очень тонко, ошпариваем крутым кипятком, слегка отжимаем и накладываем поверх рыбки.
  6. После этого покрываем, не жалея, майонезом.
  7. Отварную картошку нарезаем на маленькие квадратики и кладём следующим слоем.
  8. Делаем тонкую майонезную сеточку.
  9. Морковку и свёклу натираем на крупной тёрке по отдельности.
  10. Далее по сетке распределяем натёртую морковь.
  11. Последний овощной слой состоит из свёклы, обильно покрытой майонезом.
  12. По верху салата по желанию крошим сваренные желтки или украшаем селёдку под шубой свекольными или морковными розочками, веточками зелени и др.
  13. Поместить для пропитки на несколько часов в холодильник, сверху прикрыв его пищевой плёнкой или крышкой.
  • 2 large, fatty herrings
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • 2 large beets
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 egg yolks (for decoration)
  • Mayonnaise


  1. Wash and boil the potatoes, beets, and carrots with the skins on until tender.
  2. Remove the herring’s skin, bones, cut into fillets, and then into small cubes.
  3. Choose a large serving plate or bowl and moisten with water.
  4. Evenly spread out the herring on the serving plate or in the bowl.
  5. Peel and very finely shred the onion. Then, dip it into boiling water. Drain the water and place the onion on top of the fish.
  6. Cover this layer with a generous amount of mayonnaise.
  7. Finely cube the potatoes and use them to form the next layer.
  8. Crisscross the salad with thin strips of mayonnaise.
  9. Coarsely grate the carrots and beets into separate piles.
  10. Spread the grated carrots over mayonnaise net.
  11. For the final layer, place the beets on top and cover in an even, generous amount of mayonnaise.
  12. On the top of the salad, crumble boiled egg yolks or decorate the salad with carrot roses, herbs, etc.
  13. Cover with a lid or saran wrap and place the salad in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

Our Favorite Herring Videos

This video is a simple presentation on how to prepare Herring under a Fur Coat. During the video, the host orally explains the directions and then has pictures or video after his explanation to review what he has just said. The format of this video makes it a good tool for testing Russian comprehension skills.


In this video, a Russian babushka calmly explains how to make the classic Russian salad Herring under a Fur Coat. This video is great for working on listening skills, because the host speaks clearly and slowly. Plus, the video has Russian subtitles to help viewers follow along.


While the ingredients that go into Herring under a Fur Coat are relatively standard, many cooks get quite creative with the salad’s presentation. The below video shows several particularly festive versions of this celebratory salad.

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About the author

Caroline Barrow

Caroline Barrow is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in International Studies and Russian. She loves traveling and hearing people's stories. Out of the places she's been able to visit, her favorite was Kiev, Ukraine for its beauty, history, and friendly people. She received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and will spend the next year teaching English in Kostanay, Kazakhstan. Additionally, she has been named SRAS's Home and Abroad Translation Scholar for the 2013-2014 cycle.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

View all posts by: Caroline Barrow