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Ensaladilla Rusa - The very Spanish, Russian Salad...
09 June 2021 @ 13:06

Russian salad or also known as Olivier salad outside Spanish borders is one of the legendary recipes of Spain's bars and restaurants. It is a homemade recipe that the Spanish have adapted, and as its name indicates, is of Russian origin, surprise, surprise. 

Many people still believe that Russian salad is actually Spanish although, in reality, the original recipe has its origin in Moscow. The first "Russian" salad was made in 1860 by chef Lucien Olivier, a chef at the famous restaurant "Hermitage" in Moscow.

The exact recipe — particularly that of the dressing — was a zealously guarded secret, but it is known that the salad contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck, although it is possible that the recipe was varied seasonally. The original Olivier dressing was a type of mayonnaise, made with French white wine vinegar, mustard, and Provençal olive oil; its exact recipe, however, remains unknown.

At the turn of the 20th century, one of Olivier's sous-chefs, Ivan Ivanov, attempted to steal the recipe. While preparing the dressing one evening in solitude, as was his custom, Olivier was suddenly called away on some emergency. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Ivanov sneaked into Olivier's private kitchen and observed his mise en place, which allowed him to make reasonable assumptions about the recipe of Olivier's famed dressing. Ivanov then left Olivier's employment and went to work as a chef for Moskva, a somewhat inferior restaurant, where he began to serve a suspiciously similar salad under the name "metropolitan salad". It was reported by the gourmands of the time, however, that the dressing on the "Metropolitan" salad was of a lower quality than Olivier's, meaning that it was "missing something."

Later, Ivanov sold the recipe for the salad to various publishing houses, which further contributed to its popularisation. Due to the closure of the Hermitage restaurant in 1905, and the Olivier family's subsequent departure from Russia, the salad could now be referred to as "Olivier." At some point, it reached Spain as well as other countries, but Spain really "adopted" it as its own and it has now become a staple tapas all over the country.

Russian salad is one of those starters that cannot be missing from a Summer lunch. I always enjoy starting my barbecue with homemade gazpacho or salmorejo and some Russian salad with barbecue toasted bread. Although it is served throughout the year, it is still a very summery recipe. It must be said that there are a thousand ways to make a Russian salad, in each household they use different ingredients, but in this recipe, I am going to explain my version and the typical Spanish version. 

The typical Spanish ingredients are boiled potatoes, peas, carrots, tuna, olives and mayonnaise. From here each person can play around with their own ingredients, be it prawns, chicken, ham or whatever. I think that the mayonnaise for this recipe should always be homemade, although you can of course use bottled if you don't know or don't have time to make it - I prefer Hellmann's but that's up to you.

 


INGREDIENTS:


For the Spanish version:

2-3  Potatoes – medium-sized (400-500g)
2  large boiled eggs
2  large boiled carrots
1/2  White Onion – finely chopped
200g Cooked garden peas
8  large Gherkins – diced
12  Anchovy-stuffed green olives – chopped
200 g Tuna steak in olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice
Salt
  
For the mayonnaise:

1  Egg
250 ml Extra virgin olive oil "suave".
1 tbsp Lemon juice
Salt
 

 

 

 


 

 


My version :

I swap out the tuna for shredded roast chicken breast and my olives are not stuffed, just pitted. Everything else stays the same.

 

 

Steps to take:

  • Make a simple mayonnaise by placing all the ingredients in a tall jug and blend them with the help of a hand blender until you achieve a smooth thick emulsion. It may take a bit of practice.
  • Place the potatoes and the carrots in a cooking pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to boil and cook for 25 minutes until the vegetables become well-cooked throughout, but be careful not to overcook them or they will disintegrate when you chop them up and mix them into the salad.
  • Boil the eggs - make sure they are hard-boiled.
  • Boil the peas - once ready add them to a large salad bowl.
  • In the meantime, finely chop the onion, the gherkins and the olives. Crumble the tuna or chop the chicken and place it all in the big salad bowl.
  • Once the carrots and the potatoes are cooked and cooled, peel them and diced them. Then add them to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Season to taste and add a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and then more if required. Remember you can always add more but you can never remove the mayonnaise, so don't overdo it straight away. Mix everything thoroughly and place it in the fridge for a few hours so that it really cools down. This salad is much much better when served cold!
  • Take the salad out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before serving and serve with breadsticks or crusty toasted bread slices. 

 



Like 4




2 Comments


pjck said:
12 June 2021 @ 09:43

Same in Poland. It has been so ingrown in local culinary tradition that they call it "Polish salad" (although they add up corn or even cubed apple to above ingredients sometimes).


anthomo16 said:
12 June 2021 @ 11:12

Love this do you have a recipe for ensalada de marisco? these 2 are my favourites when out


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