Russian Language Blog

How To Prepare Russian Mimosa Salad Posted by on Mar 5, 2010 in Culture, Traditions

As you can imagine, after long winter Russians eagerly anticipate «приход весны» [advent of spring]. Every sign points to it – «оттепель» [a thaw] that leaves «проталины» [patches of thawed out ground] in the retreating snow and causes «капель» [melting icicles] to drip-drip-drip tiny droplets of clear cold water on the ground and on occasional passerby who forgets the basic Russian spring safety rule – «под сосульками не ходить» [don’t walk under the icicles].

(Do you know that, apparently, in Sweden it is no longer legal to walk under the roof overhangs because of the melting icicles and snow? Well, at least in the town of Holstad it is.)

Another sign of spring is «бабушки» [old ladies] selling пучки «вербы» [bunches of pussy willow sprigs] «на рынке» (at farmer’s market) «и в подземном переходе» (in pedestrian underpass, typically under very busy roads or leading to subway stations).

Competing with «бабушки» and their willows are the sellers of «мимоза» [mimosa], another traditional spring flower and an absolute must for celebration of «Международный женский день» (International Women’s Day) on March 8.

I tried finding mimosas at floral shops here, in North Carolina, so I could take pictures for the story, but had no luck. So, while looking for a picture on Internet, I came across a «Цветы и звёзды» [Flowers and Stars] site that had a floral horoscope. And here’s what they had to say about «мимоза» people, those born between February 20 and February 28:

«Люди, родившиеся под этим знаком…отличаются повышенной чувствительностью и переживают очень больно, если их работу недооценили. Начальники, не перегружайте Мимозу!»

[People born under this sign… are highly sensitive and take it very personally when their work is underappreciated. Bosses, do not overwork your Mimosa!]

Take that to your boss when asking for a raise!

Of course, if you Google «мимоза» the top few links might not be to a flower itself, but to a traditional Russian salad.

I rarely cook Russian food (more on this – some other time). But I guess I was so tired of the winter that, in the absence of retreating snow, thaw patches, life-threatening icicles and bunches of pussy willow or mimosa, making this salad was the only way for me to loudly proclaim – «СКОРО ВЕСНА [SPRING IS ALMOST HERE!]

Now, before I give you the recipe and the instructions… In spite of this being one of the traditional Russian salads (or maybe exactly because of this) there are countless recipes for it. Heated arguments erupt online over pretty much every ingredient – butter or no butter; the type of cheese to use, if any; how much mayo, etc. And even when there is an agreement on which ingredients to use, there are different opinions on how to layer them.

Russian cooks can be very «категоричные» [black-and-white] in their preferences. And while they do mince the ingredients, they sure don’t mince words criticizing each other’s versions. As a result, even a simple salad recipe can cause «ажиотаж» [agitated argument]. Good thing that in the end, «чувство юмора» [the sense of humor] prevails and the salad, whatever version was used, «дружно съедается» [gets eaten by all].

So here’s a recipe for this festive, «нежный» [delicate], «слоённый» [layered] salad.

Ingredients (plenty for 4 adults):


1 «банка лосося» [can of salmon] in oil; drained and mashed with a fork

4 hard-boiled «яйца» [eggs], whites separated from yolks, all finely chopped

1 «маленькая луковица» [small onion], can be replaced with a bunch of scallions, finely chopped

3-4 «картофелины» [potatoes], choose medium size yellow-skinned ones, boiled and peeled

3-4 «моркови» [carrots], boiled and peeled

«Лёгкий майонез» [light mayonnaise]

«Мягкий сыр» [soft cheese], entirely optional, grated

«Зелень лука, петрушки или укропа» [scallions – green parts, parsley or dill] for decoration, finely chopped



Spread the mashed salmon on a big shallow plate.  Cover with a thin layer of mayonnaise.

Sprinkle chopped onion, then – egg whites and shredded cheese (if using). Cover with another thin layer of mayonnaise.

Grate boiled carrots directly on top of the salad, directly over the plate. Cover with yet another thin layer of mayonnaise.

Grate boiled potatoes directly on top of the salad. Cover with the last thin layer of mayonnaise.

Sprinkle egg yolks over the salad.

Sprinkle, sparingly, finely chopped herbs over the yolks.

Do NOT mix the layers. Place the salad into refrigerator for an hour or two (gives you just enough time to wash the dishes and catch your breath).

Serve the way you would serve pie, trying to preserve the layers. Ask your friends to guess the ingredients. Enjoy.

P.S. I shared the salad with a couple of my American friends and got some mixed reviews. Overall, the salad was judged as “good”. One friend suggested to add something crunchy to it (like maybe raw carrots instead of boiled ones or a layer of shredded apples). The other one was against crunchy, but said that the salad would improve immensely if mixed and used as a spread. I can imagine the reaction on Russian cooking forums to these two ideas!

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  1. josefina:

    Mmmm…. very good work, Yelena! выглядит очень вкусно! Мне так жаль, что я вегетарианка, и сама не могу этот салат “правильно” приготовить. Но могу же просто без рыбы, да?

    • yelena:

      @josefina I think you can try it without the fish. Maybe use shredded cheese on the bottom layer and/or add a thin layer of grated apples and use more herbs, as suggested by Lisa? There are just so many versions of this salad! I think the only “unbreakable” tradition that must stay is this – it must be layered with each layer – finelly shredded or chopped and egg yolks should go on top. Good luck and if you try it sans fish, let us know!

  2. Lisa:

    I love mimosa, thank you, Yelena! A friend of a friend made one for a party a few years ago without potato and that was really good, too.

    Josefina, I bet it would be good without the salmon but with lots of herbs on top!

  3. Tera:

    Ochen spasibo! I have added this website into my list of Russian language learning aids. I love the integration of Russian words into the posts, what an excellent way to learn more words.

  4. Polina:

    I don’t know where you got this thing, but you use cooked rice instead of potato and you do not add cheese.

    • yelena:

      @Polina Well, Polina, there are about as many ways to make a Mimosa salad as there are people who make it. Check various sources online –,,,, and others – and you’ll get all the different versions of the salad (and if you read comments underneath each version, you’ll get even more variations). Alternatively, you can just ask around (which I did as well) and you’ll get all different answers too.

  5. julia:

    After seeing a nature show on Russia and the winters there, I can see why you would be so anxious to see spring! I never knew you could use mimosa in a salad. We have mimosa trees here in the U.S. but I never thought about putting them in my salad. I think I’ll have to try it!

    • yelena:

      @julia Hi Julia, please don’t put the mimosa flowers into the salad. As far as I know, they are inedible. Besides, their pollen is a strong allergen for many people. The salad’s name “mimosa” is because of the way it’s decorated – with crumbled egg yolk.