Traditional Russian food unsurprisingly varies across this vast country, a country with often extreme climates that has over time refined its culinary techniques.
Traditional Russian Food
Due to the long, cold winters, fresh fruits and vegetables are rarely used in Russian cooking. The most common ingredients of a Russian meal are potatoes, bread, eggs, meat and butter. Other common foods include cabbage, milk, sour cream, curds, mushrooms, lard, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, berries, honey, sugar, salt, garlic, and onions.
In Russia, there is almost always bread on the table particularly rye bread also known as black bread. Black bread is a symbol of wealth and health and is the traditional staple food of Russia.
The most common Russian soup is “Borsch“, a soup made of beet and meat, which is usually served with sour cream.
“Shchi” is another common hot soup which is made of cabbage. Shchi is a traditional soup of Russia where it has been known as far back as the 9th century and has been considered for Russian staple for many years. The major components of shchi were originally cabbage, meat, mushrooms, flour, and spices. Traditionally shchi is eaten with rye bread.
Beef Stroganoff or Beef Stroganov has become popular around the world but is a traditional Russian food. Stroganoff is a dish made of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sour cream sauce. Around the world, Stroganoff is now often served with white rice or pasta and has many variations of the traditional recipe.
Traditionally fish was a very important dish for Russian Orthodox people, particularly on fast days where meat was not to be eaten. A variety of fish was preserved by salting, pickling or smoking to be eaten as a “Zakuski”, a Russian snack served before a meal.
“Pirozhki” are small stuffed buns made of either dough or short pastry. They can be stuffed with a variety of fillings including; meat, rice, egg, onion, cabbage, potato and mushroom. Sweet-based fillings could include stewed or fresh fruit (apples, cherries, apricots, lemon, etc.), jam, or cottage cheese.
“Blini” are a type of thin pancake. They made with yeasted batter which is often served in connection with a religious rite or festival. Traditionally blinis were a symbol of the sun, due to their round shape and were prepared at the end of the winter to honour the rebirth of the new sun during Maslenitsa – Pancake week Blinis are still often served at wakes, to commemorate the recently deceased. They may be served with butter, sour cream, jam or caviar.