The Russian cuisine is very diverse with many influences from all over the country. We tried to give you a certain flavour of this variety in our two last posts on Russian cuisine. You might have read a little bit on Siberian, Kuban and Cisurals Cuisine as well as on Tatar and Bashkir, Caucasian and Ural cuisine – today, we’ll be travelling to the Far East of Russia and to the Don Cossacks to learn more about their cuisine.
Far East cuisine with a Korean touch
Far East cuisine’s signature dishes are various sea creatures – octopus, cucumaria, surf clam, trumpet-fish, oysters, ark-shell, corbicula, sea-urchin, calamari and, of course, crabs. The Fareasters prefer to eat seafood raw or minimally cooked. This is how they eat sea-urchin caviar, mussels, scallops, trepang and other delicacies. The fish dishes popular in the Far East are tala (frozen slices of fish with yellow onions and pepper) and sitmi (soaked sun dried fish served with wild garlic, leek or foxberry).
The Far East cuisine has a strong Korean influence – kimchee made of sour vegetables, Korean salads, and beansprouts are very often seen on the Fareasters’ tables. One cannot imagine Far East cuisine with Korean touch without fern – it is pickled, dried, soured, fried, added to meat. Pyan-se, steam patty with cabbage, meat and spices has become the Far East fast food symbol, almost the same as hamburger in America.
The Don cuisine: ukha or jelly?
The Don Cossacks used to cook simple, rich and ample food. Yakhny hot pot, minced meat or poultry patties, krugliki, jellied meat, boiled tongue, shchi, shurubarki (pelmeni) in skilly, dolma, noodles, shamayka, vareniki, kurniki, stewed cabbage with carp caviar, shulyum, fish gruel, kaimak (cream of heated milk), nardek (watermelon honey) – these are traditional Don meals that you can meet not only in Sholokhov’s books but also in Rostov Oblast houses.
A special place in the Don cuisine has always been taken by fish, of which, among others, the Don ukha (fish soup) is made. Canonically, it is cooked outside in a pot from fresh-caught fish – pike perch, carp, perch, ruffe, sulak, bream, mullet – every fish living in the Don. There is a huge number of Don ukha kinds because every stanitsa (village), every farmstead has its own secret. Some households cook it on apple broth, some – on water with kvass, some add milk, some add a long shot of booze straight into the pot. The only thing that unites all recipes is the broth being cooked in several stages. The “correct” Don ukha should be gelled on the next day even without a fridge.
Another famous Don speciality is crawfish. They are not less tasty and famous than Sevan crawfish.