Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Polish Vegetable Salad
Imagine if you will that you invent something and someone else gets all the credit and even gets to name it. Russian salad or salad russe is a case in point. According to my wife D, what now passes for Russian salad is actually Polish vegetable salad and from what I have been able to discover, she may have some grounds for complaint.
Russian salad is credited to one Lucien Olivier, the chef at Hermitage in Moscow in the 1860's, where it became a signature dish. It was known to contain grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, gherkins, cucumbers, hardboiled eggs and soy beans and is a million miles from what passes as Russian salad today, which is pretty much cooked, cold vegetables, diced and bound with mayonnaise.
Over the intervening years all the exotic garnishes have been dropped in favour of more accessible vegetables and this dish has become exactly as the Polish serve it. Polish vegetable salad always contains potatoes, carrots, peas, fermented cucumbers and eggs, but other things such as onion, beans and celeriac may also be present.
The picture above is a mesh dicer for cooked vegetables and is standard kit in pretty much every Polish kitchen as it saves hours of knifework. You simply push some cooked vegetable, like potato for instance, through the mesh and twist and what you get is perfectly uniform dice, for the essence of this salad is to have all the vegetables the same size. There are no great big lumps in this salad, everything is cut to about the size of a pea.
I bet you like my mesh dicer now!
Polish Vegetable Salad
1 kg waxy potatoes, cooked in skin, cooled & peeled
330 g peeled carrots, cooked until soft and cooled
330 g peas, cooked and cooled
3 or 4 fermented or pickled cucumbers
4 eggs, hardboiled and peeled
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and fresh ground pepper
Dice very small, about the size of a pea, the potatoes, carrots, fermented cucumbers and eggs. Place everything in a bowl and stir in the mayonnaise, season to taste. You can add onion, cooked celeriac, cooked beans, asparagus or whatever else takes your fancy and you will still be true to the idea of this salad, just keep the potato as the dominant partner. It is really great for a barbecue or cold buffet.
D also had something to say about vodka...
Labels: Polish vegetable salad