(From the Nami-Nami recipe archives.)
“Kasukas” – “fur coat” – is a name for a layered vegetable salad that is very popular here in Estonia, especially during the cold and dark season. The salad has chopped cured herring as the bottom layer, topped with layers of grated or chopped beets, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables and “glued together” with thin layers of mayonnaise. The recipe – or rather an alternative way to serve the popular “rosolje” salad – came to Estonia from Russia in the second half of last century. In Russia “fur coat” aka “shuba” is still one of the most popular salads on the festive table (here’s a lovely English-language blog post about the traditional “cured herring under fur coat”), and the un-layered “rosolli” is also a must on Finnish Christmas tables). Whereas I love beets, I dislike cured herring, so I tend to skip that salad on buffet tables. When making this at home, I’d usually make a double portion and divide the salad between two glass bowls – one with herring and the other without. Until I came across a version using smoked salmon in Natasha’s Kitchen blog. That was about a year and a half ago, and since then I’ve made this salad over and over again and converted many kasukas-haters into kasukas-lovers.
Traditionally this salad is made and served in a big glass bowl that proudly shows off all the layers, and then it’s spooned into serving plates (rather like a trifle). For a neater presentation, you may want to use individual glass bowls instead (see top photo). A note to my Estonian readers – I like making this with külmsuitsulõhe aka cold-smoked salmon (Pepe Kala makes a wonderful one!), rather than with kuumsuitsulõhe aka hot-smoked salmon.
Layered Smoked Salmon and Vegetable Salad
Serves about 6 to 8
200 g smoked salmon
400 g potatoes
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
200 g cooked beetroot (roasted, steamed or boiled)
250 g carrots
about 300-400 g good-quality mayonnaise
Boil (unpeeled!) carrots and potatoes until soft, but not mushy. Drain, cool a little, then peel.
Hard-boil the eggs, then cool and peel.
To compose the salad:
1. Cut the salmon into small pieces and scatter evenly at the bottom of a 2-litre (approximately 2-quart) glass bowl.
2. Grate the potatoes coarsely, scatter over the salmon.
3. Scatter chopped onion over the potato layer.
4. Gently spread about half of the mayonnaise over the onion layer.
5. Grate the beetroot coarsely, scatter over the mayonnaise layer.
6. Grate the carrots coarsely, scatter over the beetroot layer.
7. Spread rest of the mayonnaise over the beetroot layer.
8. Finely grate the eggs, scatter over the mayonnaise layer.
NB! As the mayonnaise is seasoned already, there is no need to season any of the layers with salt and pepper!
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and put into the fridge for a few hours for the flavours to combine (and the beetroot colour to stain the other layers :)) The salad can be happily made on a previous day as well, as it keeps rather well.