Wild Food Regions of
Where the food can definitely be very different or simple
For many centuries the inhabitants of the region of Yakutia (Yakuts) have eaten horsemeat during severe winter periods when normal hunting and fishing is made impossible. Horsemeat is nutritious and easy to obtain. The meat is diced, then boiled with fried onion and seasoning for 15 to 20 minutes. Boiling horsemeat for longer periods is not recommended as it becomes tough and looses flavour.
Another staple is raw frozen fish, known as Stroganina. It is pleasing to see that unique regional dishes are being picked up by some mainstream restaurants in the large cities. In 2014 this writer sampled a version of Stroganina served by the Moscow Metropol Hotel restaurant. The fish was served on a frozen ice block infused with wild herbs.
The list of “bloodthirsty” recipes continues with a Mordvinic specialty called “bear's paws.” Luckily, to sample this dish you don't have to kill a bear! The unfortunate name refers to a simple meat patty, one could almost use the term 'burger'. According to legend, many years ago, a poor Mordvinic man wanted to marry his beloved. The father of the girl had one condition, the man could marry her if he killed a bear to prove his strength and courage. The brave young man managed to kill a bear and he cooked one of its paws to present to her - big thing in those days, pre fast food! Nowadays “bear's paws” are made from minced, beef, pork andliver, bound with egg, spices and chopped onion. Once cooked long sticks of rye biscuits are placed on top to symbolize bear's claws.
Check out this page about the region based on this writers travels.
|Rostov Don region
Here you find a wide variety of ingredients for cooking, especially when compared to Russia’s northern regions. This would have something to do with the influences from the Caucasus and Turkey to name but two. The favourite dessert of the Don Cossacks is watermelon honey. Take a large ripe watermelon and cut it into pieces. Separate the flesh from the skin and squeeze the flesh to produce watermelon juice. Boil the juice in a pan, stirring it constantly, until it turns into an aromatic, thick and dark coloured syrup – this is known as watermelon honey.
If you happen to be travelling across the Astrakhan steppe, try to find a house of “Chabans” - local herdsmen. Steppe inhabitants are famous for their hospitality, so it would be very surprising if they let you cook for yourself. More likely you will be an honoured guest and invited to try local dishes. The first course will more than likely be a “beshbarmak” - a huge plate with meat. The word means “five fingers,” which is why you should not look for forks or knives on the table! The ingredients are simple – boiled mutton, dough and onion. To eat dip these ingredients in a hot meat broth. Even if you are not a fan of sour milk products, you should try kumis, something like a milk wine, which contains a small amount of alcohol. Kumis (fermented mares milk) was a basic drink of the merchants travelling along the Great Silk Road, who knew a thing or two about extreme travel.
After long and tiring trip a wanderer surely needs a cup of energizing coffee, or tea. In Buryatia every welcoming host will gladly offer you a cup, which unlike other Russian regions is as popular here as is tea. Don't be surprised though when you detect a distinct salty taste. Coffee is prepared according to a special Eastern recipe. Buryat tea also has an unusual taste. They add salt flour, milk and butter.
The first thing that Sakhalin Island locals will tell a hungry traveller is to find some “burdock”. This is a root vegetable commonly eaten in Asia. Eating burdock is as common as dining on potatoes or pasta. The recipe is very simple: place green sprouts of the burdock in cold water to get rid of the grassy smell. Then boil for 20 minutes in salted water. When ready, peel the stalks and cut into pieces. Deep fry in heated vegetable oil. Add salt and pepper, sprinkle with some soy sauce, sesame or pumpkin seeds. Throw in some onion and garlic and simmer until cooked.