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Olivier or Russian salad

a bowl of food on a table

What foods should I try in Russia? What are some quintessential Russian dishes? All these questions arise when you come to Russia or just want to cook something really Russian. We want to tell you about the easiest Russian salad called Olivier salad.

The famous salad, essential for Russian traditional cuisine, known all over the world as Russian salad, and as Olivier salad in Russia, was created in Moscow a long time ago in the 19 century.

a bowl of food

Olivier Salad history

30 years after the communist revolution its recipe has been lost and revived at the beginning of the 20th century. Since that time, Olivier salad became the central meal of any holiday in Russia, the symbol of the New Year feast. 

Legend has it that in the middle of the 19th century, the French chef of the trendy restaurant “Hermitage” (the building of the restaurant still exists in Moscow in Trubnaya square), Lucien Olivier, started to serve the meal, consisted of chopped boiled vegetables, grouse, crayfish, fresh cucumber (which in wintertime was substituted by pickled one) and souse mayonnaise. According to the French manner, the ingredients were served separately on a plate, but Russians preferred to mix them, which gave the idea to Olivier to create a new salad.     

The meal became so popular that it has got the name of the cooker: Olivier. Fairly speaking nobody knows the original recipe, as soon as Olivier kept it in a secret. 

That’s why after his death at the end of the 19th century, the salad has been no longer cooked until 1930 when it was repeated by Chief of the prominent restaurant in the hotel “Moscow”, Ermilin, who pretended to remember Olivier and ingredients. 

a bowl of food on a table

The change of the recipe

But due to the frequent deficits of grouse and crayfish in Russia during the Soviet period, the recipe of Olivier salad was largely amended. First of all fowl and fish were substituted with boiled meat or kind of bologna sausage, being so popular in Russia. Now cookers make it even with chicken ham, some like to add frozen peas instead of canned ones. 

a little girl sitting at a table eating food

The modern Olivier salad recipe

This is the recipe of Olivier (Russian salad), which we cook now in Russia if you’d like to challenge yourself: 

Dice finely:

  • 3 boiled potato
  • 3 boiled carrot
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 5-6 pickled cucumbers 
  • 350g of Boiled meet or Bologna sausage 
  • Onion (if you like)

Then add:

  • Canned peas
  • Put everything in a large pot
  • Dress the salad with mayonnaise 
  • Season it with salt
  • For traditional decoration use boiled eggs with red caviar 

We invite you to make the salad in a good company of ExploRussia co-founder Olga and her small daughter. Join online tour Home-cooking class and feel yourself as if you are in a local Russian family house.

Read our article 5 most popular Russian cuisine recipes that everybody can cook!