Citizens, you may think that Russian dressing and thousand island dressing are the same thing – not true, my followers!
This is a salad dressing invented in Nashua, New Hampshire, by James E. Colburn, likely in the 1910s. Typically piquant, it is today characteristically made of a blend of mayonnaise and ketchup complemented with such additional ingredients as horseradish, pimentos, chives and spices.
It is actually unknown in authentic Russian cuisine, though it exists in modern recipes as ketchunez (rus. кетчунез, ketchu- part for ketchup (rus. кетчуп) and -nez part for mayonnaise (rus. майонез)).
An article in The Washington Post sums up the confusion and the issue:
“In a battle few were watching, Russian dressing has seemingly lost to its bland and sweeter relative, Thousand Island dressing.
It was once the go-to condiment in a Reuben sandwich, but an examination of menus around the country shows that Russian dressing has all but disappeared from America’s national consciousness. It also has largely disappeared from supermarket shelves and sandwich chains.
“I can tell you from the restaurant side, sometimes it’s easier to just make things quickly understandable for the customer, to avoid wasting time explaining things,” says Nick Zukin, co-author of “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home” and a caterer in Portland, Ore. “Even if you made what was essentially a Russian dressing, you might call it Thousand Island just to avoid headaches.”
The two condiments are not interchangeable. Russian dressing recipes typically call for mayonnaise, chili sauce or ketchup, relish, horseradish, paprika and other seasonings, making it considerably spicier and less sweet than Thousand Island dressing, with its hard-cooked egg, lemon or orange juice, cream and sweet pickle relish or olives.”
Citizens, what better place to go to for the canonical dressing than the one used in the iconic New York restaurant of blessed memory, The Russian Tea Room? 🙂 Try this in place of the standard thousand island dressing sometime and educate your refined palates even further in the subtle yet profound differences between the two!
Battle on – The Generalissimo