Other dishes, however, mystify even experienced foreign gourmands. Such is the popular dressed herring, which, in Russian, is provocatively named "herring under a fur coat". At first glance it's hard to know what to make of it. From afar it's vaguely cake-like, while it is actually a type of salad, with one or more layers of salted herring, vegetables and eggs, and a topping of mayonnaise and grated beetroot lending a rich purple colour... and it's probably the most popular of all Russian salads. It is found on New Year's tables, and often at birthdays and on holidays.

2 skinless, salted herring fillets o 2 medium-sized beetroot o 2 potatoes o 2 carrots o 1 onion o 3 eggs o 1.5 cups mayonnaise o Salt o Black pepper o

Boil eggs until hard.
Boil carrots, potatoes and beetroots until tender.
Peel onions, then steep in boiling water. After 5 minutes, pour into a strainer and hold onions under cold water for 1 minute.
Let boiled vegetables cool. Clean potatoes and carrots and grate into separate bowls.
Peel and grate beetroots in a separate bowl.
Remove shells and grate eggs.
Chop herring into small pieces and add pepper.
On a large plate, spread out a layer of grated potatoes, salt and cover with a layer of mayonnaise. Add a layer herring, then onions, carrots and eggs, salting each layer and topping it with a coating of mayonnaise. Repeat the process, without herring, until you have at least two layers.
Cover everything with a layer of grated beetroot, on top of which you spread a thick coating of mayonnaise. A final layer of grated egg yolk can be added for decoration.
Refrigerate for 5 hours and serve in slices, like a cake.