Russian Herring Salad with Beets and Apple Smørrebrød

Russian Herring Salad Smørrebrød, a Danish open-faced sandwich, from the cookbook Scandinavian from Scratch by Nichole Accettola, published by Ten Speed Press.

This recipe for Russian Herring Salad Smørrebrød appears in Scandinavian From Scratch by Nichole Accettola, published by Ten Speed Press.

At any Scandinavian supermarket, you’re bound to find a refrigerated wall of jars of pickled herring. They always have basic herring in white wine marinade, as well as other preparations where the fish has been combined with a creamy sauce flavored with ingredients like whole-grain mustard, curry spices, or sour cream and herbs. I immediately took to pickled herring and found fish marinated in creamy dressings to be especially tasty. American supermarkets don’t typically carry anything other than marinated herring, so I make my own creamy homemade sauce and mix it with the herring I’m able to find.

Makes 6 sandwiches

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Russian herring salad

  • 2 medium red beets, unpeeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 12 ounces (340 g) white wine–marinated herring fillet, drained well and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces
  • 1 crisp Granny Smith or other tart and crunchy apple, peeled cored, and diced into 1/2-inch (1 cm cubes)
  • 1/2 cup (90 g) dill pickle slices, drained and minced
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed drained, and minced
  • 3/4 cup (192 g) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (80 g) mayonnaise
  • 2 ounces (56 g) fresh horseradish, peeled
  • Fresh ground black pepper

For assembly

  • 6 freshly cut slices Sprouted Rye Bread
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 soft-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half (optional)
  • A few sprigs of parsley or other fresh herb

Make the salad

Place the beets in a medium pot and add cold water to cover by about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the temperature to low and simmer the beets for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how big they are. As they finish cooking, you will see their skins slipping off. Test for doneness with a fork. Cooked beets should have the consistency of boiled potatoes. Drain them in a colander and rinse under cold water, removing any remaining skin. Pat them dry. With a chef’s knife, dice the bets into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the beets, herring, apple, pickles, onion, capers, sour cream, and mayonnaise until it forms a creamy salad. Using a Microplane, grate in 1 tablespoon of the horseradish and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may not need to add much salt at all since the herring will already be salty. Cover the herring salad and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Lay the bread slices on a work surface. Lightly butter each side all the way to the edges of each slice but not over. Distribute the salad among the slices and spread it evenly. If desired, top each sandwich with 1 soft-boiled egg, cut in half, yolk side up. Grate the remaining horseradish directly onto each smørrebrød. Garnish with a few torn leaves of parsley or other fresh herb. Serve immediately.

This recipe for Russian Herring Salad Smørrebrød was discussed on an edition of Central Time‘s Food Friday. Listen to the episode here.

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