Unless you’ve had your eyes and ears shut for the past few days, you’ll be aware that it’s the World Cup semi-final tonight – and England are playing!!! I’m no football pundit, so instead I thought I’d write a blog about the type of Russian food that England fans might like to try. Here are a few popular dishes…
Named after a Russian aristocrat. It is strips of sautéed beef in a sour cream sauce. There are different variations of the dish. Some include mustard, some include onions or tomato sauce. It is often served with rice or potatoes. “Simples”.
Who remembers Roland Rat? His favourite dish was, purportedly, caviar and chips. Caviar is, of course a famous Russian dish. It is the roe (eggs) of the wild Sturgeon fish, found in the Black and Caspian Seas. It is definitely an acquired taste since it is extremely salty. One suspects the cockney Breakfast TV puppet would smother his caviar in tomato ketchup. However the purists serve theirs on spoons made of Mother of Pearl to avoid tainting the natural flavour.
Off to a fancy party? While you’re sipping on your prosecco and hobnobbing with a Russian oligarch, you might well be offered some caviar on a blini. This is just a fancy word for a Russian wheat pancake.
Got a relative or friend who has seriously out-stayed their welcome? Tell them you’re getting into the World Cup spirit by serving them a bowl of traditional Russian Rassolnik. It sounds truly delicious. A soup made from pickled cucumbers, pearl barley and pork or beef kidneys. Guaranteed to make them head for the Urals without looking back.
Whilst we’re on the subject of soup, perhaps the most famous Russian soup is Borscht. Its distinctive deep red colour comes from its main ingredient – fermented beetroot. This is combined with meat stock and sautéed vegetables such carrots, cabbage and onions.
This is a yummy cake or trifle. Traditionally a mould was lined with stale bread dipped in butter and the filling made from a fruit puree or custard. Nowadays the mould is more likely to be lines with cake or sponge fingers. Mmmmmmm.
This sweet treat is similar in consistency to marshmallows and is made by whipping berry and fruit puree with egg whites and sugar. A gelling agent is then added. In looks it is very like a meringue, but it retains a soft consistency. Because it is so light and airy it is named after Zephyr, the Greek god of the north west wind.
Ryazhenka is a fermented milk product. At first sight it sounds like it would appeal to those who actually enjoyed school milk which had been left by the radiator all morning. Having read a little more into it, it seems like it might taste a little more like condensed milk. Apparently, it’s made by pasteurising milk and leaving it simmering for over eight hours. This causes a Maillard reaction to occur, giving it a caramelised flavour (one of the main focuses for our Creating Thermal Process Flavours course, incidentally).
Perhaps the most famous Russian drink of all! It is, of course made by distilling potatoes or wheat and is traditionally drunk neat and freezer chilled. At 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) it is guaranteed to blow your socks off – and probably your football boots as well.
As they say in Russian ???????? ? ??????! (Come on England!)