5 Tasty Foods to Try While Visiting Russia
Russian cuisine is rich, varied, hearty and without a doubt, absolutely delicious. Most traditional dishes center around a wide array of vegetables that were historically cultivated by peasants for their resilience to a severe climate, and their ability to be stored through the long winter such as beets, radishes, carrots and garlic. The heavy use of vegetables in Russian cuisine also has roots in Christian teachings that encouraged long periods of fasting - during which time little to no meat was consumed.
However, that being said, meat dishes are still an integral part of Russian cuisine, as are a multitude of delicious breads and other dough based recipes. Below are 5 popular, classic dishes that will allow you to dive into the absolutely scrumptious world of Russian food.
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This traditional layered salad entirely satisfies both the palate, and the eyes. Also known as 'herring under a fur coat', it is typically made by the careful layering of finely chopped potatoes, onions, beets, eggs and mayonnaise over diced pickled herring fillets. It's then seasoned with a touch of black pepper and salt to taste, and served chilled. Shuba can be eaten as a side or on its own, and is so wonderfully tasty and festive that no Russian New Years feast would be complete without it.
Borscht may possibly be the star of Eastern European cuisine as a whole. While there is no standard recipe to this Russian staple, the gorgeous, vibrant red beet-based version is possibly the most renowned. Core ingredients are usually beef, beets, cabbage and a variety of other sautéed vegetables and herbs that will differ depending on the Chef. Although potatoes, dill, bay leaves and carrots tend to be common favorites.
The soup can take up to six hours or more to prepare, with the preparation of the beef stock base taking up a large chunk of that time. It's well worth the wait though, even for just a small bowl of this hearty, nutritious soup. Some people claim it tastes even better the next day - when all the various flavors have had ample time to develop and come together. Just don't forget to stir in a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill for a true authentic eating experience.
These fried or baked, tender yeast dough buns are a fun and delightful Russian favorite. Stuffed with anything from meat and vegetables to cheese and fruit, they are often sold as a quick and convenient bite-to-go. Pirozhki were wildly popular during the Soviet era - and unsurprisingly remain so even today. They tend to be associated with grandmothers who are credited with holding the secrets to making the best of the best, and are a great option for the on-the-go traveler looking for something fast and delicious to have on the road.
The fact that several iterations of beef stroganoff have become popular staples across the globe, is a true testament to the greatness of this Russian dish. Originating sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century and mixing French and Russian cooking techniques, it is a perfect representation of Russia's past aristocracy - impressive, rich and unforgettable. Cooked using soft, juicy strips of steak, mushrooms and onions, mixed into a sour cream gravy flavored with mustard, this is just one of those dishes that it would be a tragedy to leave Russia without trying.
One bite of these juicy, meat filled dumplings and you just might be left wondering how you've managed to live so long without knowing such pleasure. Prepared by sealing a seasoned mixture of ground beef and pork in thin, elastic dough pockets, freezing and then boiling. This is just one of those dishes that are so brilliant in their simplicity, that they have become a staple on Russian New Years tables. Along with becoming a must-try for anyone traveling through the beautiful and vast expanse of the world's biggest country.
Russia is a massive, ethnically diverse and uniquely located country. All of these factors lend to an interesting and diverse food culture with influences that have seeped through its shared borders with East Asia, South West Asia and Western Europe. Most of the popular, traditional foods tend to be hearty, nutritious and incredibly appetizing. If you're planning your next trip to Russia, make sure to try at least one or two of these dishes, which are in our opinion, perfect for the curious and hungry traveler.