At The Edge of The World

Gems of Russia’s Far Eastern cuisine

By Federal Agency for Tourism

Zhdanko ridge (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Stretching across four time zones, a dozen geological environments, including permafrost, and linking two oceans, the Pacific and the Arctic, the Russian Far East is so vast that you truly can “travel a whole week without meeting a single person”, as a Russian saying goes. 

A simple look at the map is enough to realize that its cuisine will vary from region to region.  

Local food (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Even the Soviet background that bridged the gulf between dining styles across the country left at least 3 different approaches to cooking in the Far East. Yakutia cuisine makes heavy use of foods growing or being farmed in the harsh continental climate.  

Local woman (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Unrivalled cuisine of Primorye is based on taiga foods and seafood, while the peoples of extreme north have to rely on a tough but diverse selection of natural products and their unforgiving cooking practices. 

Oymyakon (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Top Landmarks: Yakutia

You won’t meet tourist crowds in Yakutia. Too bad for them. Apart from the glaciers and permafrost available for comfortable observation just 10 km from the capital of Yakutsk, or the famous Oymyakon, the world’s coldest inhabited place, the Republic of Sakha has other exceptional landmarks.

Oymyakon (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

One of them are the tulukans, the naturally formed dunes in the Lena River basin that can also be called a taiga desert. 

Oymyakon (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The largest tulukan of Saamys-Kumata is located below the confluence of the Lena and the Diring-Yuryakh brook. Unlike a real desert, it has lakes, bushes and pines.

Festival "Hold the crab" (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Vladivostok King Crab Festival

The annual Kamchatka crab festival is held in October in Vladivostok and other 25 cities across Russia. 

Festival "Hold the crab" (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Launched by the Zuma restaurant in Vladivostok, the festival’s original aim was to get more people to know about local food and offer them a cheaper bite.

When well prepared for the market, Kamchatka crabs are considered one of the best in the world. 

Festival "Hold the crab" (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Koryakskaya Sopka (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Kamchatka

Wishing to bring up the subject of distances or huge differences, a Russian may say ‘It’s midnight in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky’, a perfectly apt expression given that they are 9 time zones between that city and Moscow, or that it will take 9 hours to fly from one to the other.

Gorely volcano crater (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

A Kamchatka summer vacation is a thing to boast about, however, with a selection of must-see sights and landmarks not limited to the geyser alley or a dozen active volcanoes.

Crabs, caviar and sea urchins will complement any popular tourist activity such as a trip to one of the ethnic villages where you can immerse yourself into the lifestyles of local peoples, speak with shamans, and taste more or less authentic local foods.

Volcano of Kamchatka (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Some of these tourist attractions are a short bus drive from the capital, others are reachable by plane. 

Fern (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Top Picks in Far Eastern Cuisine: Eagle Fern

Common in Taiga, this wild fern holds a special place in Far Eastern cuisine where it is a staple for many dishes. The fern will be collected young in May and June and preserved for the year ahead either by being soaked in two consecutive baths and heavily salted, or boiled and frozen.

Taiga is also home to all kinds of raspberry and various vines, such as Chinese lemongrass.

Stroganin (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Stroganina

Stroganina is a way to consume fish or deer meat common among all the peoples of the North both extreme or living in relative comfort. 

Stroganin (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The original variation is fresh frozen fish or steamed meat from deer to foal. Once slightly thawed, fish may be sliced for convenience. In Yakutia, fish may be chopped into bites, which is reflected in the name for the dish: ‘rubanina’ or ‘chopped dish’.

oikos far east by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Foal Meat

Foal meat is Yakutia’s most common meat variety and a true local culinary brand with horses bred on an industrial scale. Unlike other nomadic and Turkic people who eat horse meat, the Yakuts have a predilection for foal, and there’s a bevy of dishes cooked from foal meat.

The one that has received prominence outside Yakutia is oyogos, or foal ribs that are either boiled or baked with mustard. Khaan, a bloody horse sausage, is another local favourite. 

Kimchi (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Kimchi

An important Far Eastern taste is that of fermented and spicy kimchi. 

Originally from Korea where it has got hundreds of varieties, the word kimchi is, to be precise, not a name for a dish, but rather for how it is made by lactose fermentation with hot pepper. 

Russia’s Far East applies the name to Napa cabbage marinated with pepper.

Pyanse (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Pyanse

A staple of Primorye street food, these spicy steamed buns stuffed with cabbage and meat have been cooked there since the 1980s.

Believed to be of Korean origin, pyanse are made much in the same way as Central Asian manty dumplings or Buryat pozi, not to mention Chinese baoczi. In the Far East, however, yeast rice dough is used to make a whole, steamed and thick bun that can be filled with minced meat mixed with Napa cabbage or kimchi-style cabbage.

Kyorchekh by Lyubov OrlovaFederal Agency for Tourism

Kyorchekh

This is Yakutia’s best-known dessert made by whisking smetana sour cream, cream and berries and consumed with scones, home waffles, and bread. Kyorchekh has a short shelf life meaning that the cream and smetana will be whisked right before being served in traditional tea cups or in wooden cups called kytyya.

Zuma restaurant (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Seafood

Far Eastern diet is heavy on seafood, not just crabs, that Russians generally consider gourmet, along with shrimps, mussels, true whelks, surf clams, anadars and oysters. 

Oyster lovers mainly live in the country’s west, while Vladivostok residents enjoy sea cucumbers, squids and scallops.

Seafood (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Scallops may be farmed on Russky Isle, for instance, but locals will always prefer the wild variety, and they can tell the difference between the two with their eyes closed. 

Red caviar (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Caviar

Sakhalin and Kamchatka red caviar is not one product, but several. Any local will readily tell the difference between pink salmon caviar and chinook salmon, sockeye salmon or coho salmon varieties. Any local will also have a friend selling the best product in the region.

However, despite popular belief, homemade salmon caviar is not marketed in the street, while local residents are just fine with the factory-produced variety. 

Red caviar (21st Century) by Aleksander AverinFederal Agency for Tourism

Whether on shore or out on a ship at sea, the location of the production facility doesn’t matter as long as just two conservants are used to keep caviar fresh: salt and freezing temperatures. 

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Natalia Savinskaya, Proximity Russia, Denis Yershov, Ekaterina Pugacheva, Igor Kacevich

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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