Both of my parents worked a lot while I was growing up, so I was raised for the first 5 years or so by an older Russian-speaking woman whom I consider to be like a “babushka” (Russian for grandmother). She and I cooked a lot of Russian dishes, including this one. This dish was my favorite because the mayonnaise mixed with the beets to create a vibrant pink color (the picture doesn’t even do it justice!). There was also something very comforting about the saltiness of the herring mixing with the creaminess of the mayonnaise. It takes a long time to make this dish, but I have incredibly fond memories of being in the kitchen together grating, assembling, and finally eating. I also remember how delighted my parents would be when they came home and joined us in eating a dish that reminded them of home. I still visit my babushka when I’m home, and I am very worried about her, given recent events. She doesn’t eat much anymore and I obviously can’t visit her right now in person, otherwise I would absolutely make this dish and bring it to her.
- Boil potatoes, beets, carrots until they can be pierced with a fork. Let the vegetables cool and then peel them. Grate them each into a separate bowl.
- Finely chop onions and boiled eggs.
- This recipe is basically like a savory multi-layer cake:
- Layer 1: Pickled herring
- Chopped onions
- Grated potatoes
- Grated carrots
- Grated beets
- A layer of mayonnaise
- Repeat layers ‘a’ through ‘f’ until you run out of ingredients or your “cake” gets wobbly. Often the “cake” turns into more of a mound anyways. The picture below clearly used a mold, we would just start in a shallow bowl and build.
- Top with chopped boiled egg and dill.