How foreigners change Russian cuisine: Italian Mircko Zago cooks Olivier salad

Mircko Zago is the brand chef of the Aist restaurant in Moscow, and La Fabbrica in Rostov-on-Don.

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Mircko Zago has been living and working in Moscow for almost 20 years, during which time he has become the most famous Italian chef in Russia. He shared with us an unusual recipe for Olivier salad, served in a slice of salmon to great effect.

Ever since childhood, Mircko Zago has loved experimenting with flavors, combining sweet and salty, blending unusual ingredients to get something new. At 15, he found a job as a washer-upper at a restaurant, and left high school at 18 to work in a kitchen. That was the start his career as a chef. In 2001, he was invited to Moscow’s Syr restaurant, where he was as a chef until the establishment’s recent closure.

Restaurant La Fabbrica in Rostov-on-Don

Zago is now the brand chef of the Aist and BRO&N restaurants in Moscow, and La Fabbrica in Rostov-on-Don, and his immediate plans include opening another place inside the Arctic Circle in Murmansk.

“For me, modern cuisine represents a completely new look at classic Italian recipes. I try to make them lighter and healthier, with more vibrant flavors,” Zago told Russia Beyond.

Beef tartare with artichoke

Zago also experiments with Russian cuisine, and admits to having fallen in love with soups, marinades, cutlets, pelmeni, and solyanka. “But most of all I like okroshka and the amazing drink kvass,” he notes.

In conversation with Russia Beyond, Zago shared his vision of Russia’s beloved Olivier salad.

“Russian salad”: Olivier with salmon and apple

Russian salad

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes - 30 g
  • Carrots - 20 g
  • Chicken egg - 40 g
  • Green apple - 30 g
  • Olive oil - 2 g
  • Fresh cucumber - 20 g
  • Salted cucumber - 20 g
  • Homemade mayonnaise - 10 g
  • Green peas -10 g
  • Lightly salted salmon - 40 g
  • Beet sauce -10 g
  • Red caviar - 5 g
  • Meringue - 5 g  
  • Salt -1 g
  • Pepper - 1 g

Cooking:

  1. Boil potatoes and carrots, cut into medium cubes, mix with egg, green apple, sliced ​​cucumbers, and green peas, season with mayonnaise and olive oil.
  2. Shape and wrap with lightly salted salmon.
  3. Serve with beet sauce, top with red caviar, and sprinkle with meringue crumbs.
Russian salad

Read more: Said Fadli from Morocco cooks the Olivier salad 

In our new series “How foreigners change Russian cuisine,” Russia Beyond sits down with Moscow’s brilliant foreign chefs to talk all things food and to get you, our readers, a special Russian recipe in their own original interpretation, that you can easily make at home.

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