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Ensaladilla Rusa

Origin: Spain and other origins

Ensaladilla rusa

Ensaladilla rusa -also called Olivier salad- is typically from Russia but so popular and extended in Spain that it's been included in the national Spanish gastronomy and it's a typical salad in Spanish schools and summer camps in Spain.

Nowadays ensaladilla rusa is a potato salad, mixed with tuna and mayonnaise as well as other vegetables and it's served as a "ración " and also very commonly as a tapa. It can be found in most bars and any typical Spanish restaurants. But its original ingredients not only were very different (in fact it appears to have barely contained potatoes, if any) but mysterious too.

Ensaladilla rusa was invented in 1860 by Lucien Olivier chef and co-owner of restaurant Hermitage in Trubnaya Square, one of the best known restaurants in Moscow at the time and it would soon become it's hallmark dish. But Mr. Olivier maintained the ingredients of his salad as a state secret, as well as the dressings he used and took this secret to the grave

There were many that tried to steal his recipe, and the one who got closest to achieve it was his own cook. Mr. Olivier would go into a room by himself to prepare it. Legend says that on one occasion Mr. Olivier was called out of this room on an urgent matter, an occasion the cook took advantage of to go in and make note of the elements on the table.

Once the cook was fired he began working for a less notorious restaurant and tried to emulate his ex-boss' formula unsuccessfully; those who tried it said the dressing was different and the dressing' secret ingredients are still in Olivier's grave.

In 1904 a group of investigators managed to determine the ingredients of ensaladilla rusa. They interviewed people who dined in his restaurant and the conclusion of the ingredients was: roast capercaillie, smoked duck, cow tongue, cured bear meat, tails and legs of some crustaceans, shrimp, russian crab, smoked sturgeon, capers, fresh cucumbers, truffles, hard boiled eggs and other vegetables, some of them cooked, some raw. Apparently the vegetables varied according to availability.

As many of those ingredients are unavailable in Spain, ensaladilla rusa is defined as a "macedoine" of vegetable and meat products, fish and shellfish, cut brunoise mixed with mayonnaise. The final result depends on the successfully or unsuccessful combination of products.

Ensaladilla Rusa | Salad Olivier

Ensaladilla rusa


*These ingredients are more or less the basic ones used, however you can add or subtract any of them to your taste. Ensaladilla rusa is normally prepared for a large party as it requires a large amount of ingredients

  • 1/2 kilo of potatoes
  • 1 large carrot (approximately 100 grams)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small tin of tuna, preferably in olive oil
  • 1 mayonnaise jar
  • 50 ml of olive oil
  • salt
  • olives
  • strips of sweet pepper


  • In a sauce pan large enough for the potatoes, the carrot and the eggs boil plenty of water
  • Clean the potatoes, carrot and eggs under the running water. When the water boils add the ingredients to the water and two tsps of salt
  • After 10 minutes on the fire remove the eggs from the pan. After 10 more minutes (20 in total) remove the carrot. If the potatoes are cooked remove as well, if not leave for 10 or 20 more minutes, until they're soft
  • Cool the eggs under the running water, when they're cool enough remove the shell. Separate the egg white from the yolk. We'll use the whites, but the yolk will serve to decorate, so don't throw it away.
  • Dice the egg whites and put it in a large bowl, where all the ingredients will be mixed
  • When the potatoes and carrots have cooled a bit, peel the potatoes and cut the carrot in brunoise
  • Add the potatoes in the bowl, pour olive oil and mix well, then add the carrot
  • Drain the oil from the tuna tin and add to the rest of ingredients. Mix well
  • Add 3/4 of the mayonnaise jar and mix again
  • Transfer the salad to a platter and give it the preferred shape
  • With a spatula smear the rest of the mayonnaise on the ensaladilla rusa to give it a homogeneous appearance
  • Sprinkle the egg yolk on top of the salad, decorate with the olives and sweet pepper strips and serve

Ensaladilla rusa is a great side dish for any meal and it goes well with meats as well as rice and other dishes. Should you ever go to Spain, don't forget to try this salad, whose origin may be Russian, but now it's an emblematic recipe of the Spanish cuisine.