Russian Mimosa Salad with a Twist

Ingredients:

1 medium-large white potato
1 medium beet, cooked
4 eggs
1 8.8 oz can smoked sprats in oil (I used Riga brand), drained
1/2-1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
mayonnaise (about 1/2 cup, maybe more)
1 bunch spring onions, sliced, greens only (save whites for another use)
2-3 oz brick sharp white cheddar

Directions:

I strongly suggest you do the first step the day before you want to serve the salad but you can do it the morning of and serve it late in the afternoon or evening.

In separate pots, boil the skin-on potato, skin-on beets, and eggs until the vegetables are fully cooked and the eggs are hard-boiled. Allow to cool to room temperature then peel the beets and potato. Refrigerate the eggs, potato, and beet until cold (I really suggest doing this the night before), about 2 hrs. Peel and halve the eggs.

When you are ready to make the salad:

In a small bowl, mash together the sprats, horseradish and about a tablespoon on mayo. Spread on a dinner plate. (if you have a glass parfait or terrine bow–or want to make individual ones in smooth jars or glass bowls, that’s great too, it’s a very pretty layered salad)

Spread the sprats mixture with a thin layer of mayo (the easiest way was to place a 1/2 tablespoon-ish dollop in the middle and spread it with a butterknife like you were icing a cake).

Grate, using the finer side of a box grater, the potato over the sprat mixture to cover. Spread another thin layer of mayo over the potato, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using the same finer side, grate the beet over the potatoes to cover. Spread another thin layer of mayo. Sprinkle the green onion over the beet mixture. Spread another thin layer of mayo. Finely grate the egg whites over the green onion layer. Spread another thin layer of may over the eggs. Finely grate the cheddar over the green onion layer. Finally, finely grate the egg yolks over the cheddar layer.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

My thoughts:

I came across two big cans of smoked sprats while putting away groceries. I think I must have bought them at the Russian festival or at the Polish market but I’m not too sure; normally I remember everything so I think I must have bought them a long, long time ago. I posted a picture of  them in my stories on Instagram and my friend Olga (Mango & Tomato) suggested I use them to make mimosa salad, a Russian dish that is popular in springtime. It gets its name from the yellow blossoms of the mimosa tree which blooms in early spring which is mimicked in the grated yolk topping. It was full of ingredients that I liked (tinned fish, potato, hardboiled eggs) so I thought it was a great idea.

I read a lot of (English language) recipes for the salad and they were all pretty similar with some minor variations. A layer of tinned fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna were popular choices, a layer of cold potato, a layer of carrots, a layer of egg and a lot of mayo were in all of them. Some recipes called for grated pickle, some called for grated (then boiled!!) white onion, some called for shredded mozzarella (one for shredded string cheese!) or other mild cheese. Olga said she felt like her family used apple instead of carrot.

I’ve never had the salad before, although I have heard of it and seen pictures before. I thought I’d tweak it a bit more to our tastes and what we have on hand. I decided to flavor the fish a bit with horseradish, swap out carrots for beets and use spring onion for a fresher taste and easier preparation.  I also used sharp cheddar rather than a mild white cheese because  I thought it would go better with the other flavors.

It turned out wonderfully! As I discussed with Olga, I think my modifications kept with the Russian palate and possibly added a slight Jewish twist to the dish. It was very easy to make but time-consuming. I am very glad I made the potato, beets, and eggs yesterday so today I just had to grate and assemble because that alone took about 30 minutes. There was also no chance of the ingredients being too warm–you really want them quite cold so they grate well.

I think this is served as a side dish traditionally but I served it as our lunch with some slices of rye bread.

It was very tasty! We both enjoyed it a lot. It had a lot of flavor and I think adding the beets, sharp cheddar and the horseradish was the way to go. It made for a more strongly flavored dish than it probably normally is but I felt like they really held up against the canned fish and pulled the whole dish together in a satisfying way. I can’t say I want to make this frequently for a Monday lunch but it would be a great dish to take to a brunch or for a Russian themed dinner party. It was fun to eat, oddly not as heavy as you’d think with all the mayo and layers and really festive looking.

If I was making it for a party, I’d try to borrow a dish to make it in to showcase the layers or use a plate to lightly press down on the mixture to make it super smooth before grating the yolks. Mine was definitely on the rustic side.

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