Soviet-Jewish appetizer: How to cook devilled eggs with forshmak

Are you looking for exquisite ideas for your canapé-style party? Try these stuffed eggs that take only several minutes to prepare and have a long creamy aftertaste.

There are no doubts that Jewish food is absolutely well cooked in families with Jewish roots. Such an example is Alissa Timoshkina, who moved to London with her parents when she was 15. Her father's family comes from the Russian Far East, and her mother's heritage includes Jewish Ukrainians. 

Her great grandmother, Rosalia, was a Holocaust survivor in Ukraine, and an evacuee to Siberia. She was a trained pastry-chef, and spoiled her family with delicious desserts and other dishes from Jewish cuisine. One of them is forshmak, which Alissa still associates with her great-grandma. 

Forshmak (the Yiddish word for ‘foretaste’) is a staple of Soviet-Jewish cuisine, and is perfect for a finger-food buffet. While forshmak was initially any cold starter made from finely-chopped salty fish or meat, in Russian tradition it is known as a pâté of salted herring mixed with other ingredients. There are two classic ways to serve it: on a slice of rye bread, or as a filling for devilled eggs. 

Alissa, whose passion for cooking led her to launch a cinema-supper club in London, published the recipe for stuffed eggs with forshmak, as well as many others, in her recent book, Salt & Time. Recipes from a modern Russian kitchen. In spite of the title, it has more than an ‘aesthetic take on Russian food’, and includes stories of her childhood, her family and her generation. 

Devilled eggs with forshmak

Ingredients: 

Serves 4–6 

  • 200g salted herring fillets in oil
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
  • 15g white bread, soaked in milk for 5 minutes
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, or more juice to taste
  • 1 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar, or more to taste
  • generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled, halved and yolks carefully removed
  • rye bread toast, to serve (optional) 

Cooking: 

  1. Place all the ingredients, apart from the boiled egg white halves but including the boiled egg yolks, in a food processor. Make sure to squeeze out the excess milk from the bread. Blitz on high speed for 5–8 minutes until you get a smooth pâté. Taste for seasoning and acidity, and adjust if needed, adding more salt, sugar or lemon juice. 
  2. To make the devilled eggs, place the forshmak in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle (or with the corner snipped off), and pipe the mixture into the hollow of each egg white half.
  3. Alternatively, you can serve forshmak as pâté on a slice of toasted rye bread, in which case you don’t need to remove the egg yolks from the whites.

Read more:  QUIZ! Find out if you have the appetite of Ivan the Terrible or Nicholas II 

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