Siberia Dining: Local Specialties

Explore the region by discovering local tastes and unexpected specialties

By Federal Agency for Tourism

Minusinsk Tomatoes (21st Century) by Alexander AverinFederal Agency for Tourism

Minusinsk Tomatoes

The Minusinsk Hollow challenges the assumption of Siberia being a permanently cold place with its 300 sunny days each year.

The insulation around the small town of Minusinsk is enough to cultivate wheat, cherries, apples and the crown jewel of big sweet tomatoes.

The Naturalist's Library: Enymology (1860)LIFE Photo Collection

Altai Kurut

Even as all of Russia has heard of or tasted Altai honey, few people know much of kurut, a traditional dish of Central Asian nomads.

Sour milk is filtered and mixed with salt before being rolled into small balls and dried in the fresh air or the smoke of the hearth with the latter technique giving kurut a strong smoky taste.

By John DominisLIFE Photo Collection

Kurut is a snack, a flavour for various dishes, or an unusual and invigorating drink when beaten and mixed with water.

Berry pie (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Bird Cherry Flour

Long winters have taught Siberians to preserve almost everything, and they have excelled in this particular art. Bird cherry fruits are rather stony and won’t make good jam. 

Instead, they are dried and milled into violet-to-brown flour that surprisingly smells of cocoa and nuts and tastes distinctly tart, which prevents it from being used in pure form. As such, it is mixed in half with wheat flour to produce fragrant pies.

Pelmenissimo cafe (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Pelmeni

Pelmeni is a staple of Siberian cuisine. Still, the many peoples that inhabit the region possess their own varieties of minced meat wrapped in dough. 

The more common appearance of pelmeni will be small and frozen. In the past, some families froze them by the thousands for the winter.

Dumplings (Pelmeni) (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The filling is extremely diverse and includes fish, potatoes, wild herbs, as well as meat. But it is meat, or rather two sorts of meat, such as beef and pork popular now or game common in the past, that is the classic deal. 



Made from the same kind of dough as pelmeni, Buryat buuz, another dumpling variety, is usually larger, folded differently, and steamed.

Buryat Buuz (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Traditionally, buuz is filled with minced beef mixed with onions and folded to resemble the dome roof of a common Buryat yurt or tent with an opening above to let steam out. A sign of true mastery that few attain is to make buuz with the classic 33 pinches.

Buuz can be tried in specialised cafes or purchased frozen in any store in and around Russia's Buryatia region. Eating it requires no tableware. First take a little bite, sip the hot liquid, and then finish the dumpling.

Stroganina 1 by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Stroganina / Rubanina / Raskolotka

Over centuries, the Siberians learnt to put the harsh winter frost to practical use. Fish caught from under ice can be placed above it to freeze momentarily. It can then be finely sliced, peppered, salted and consumed right away.

lightly salted slices of sliced raw fish (Sugudai) (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Sometimes, frozen fish will be struck repeatedly with a heavy object until it crumbles into pieces producing raskolotka (“shattered fish”) or chopped into larger pieces, which is rubanina (“chopped fish”). It is always served frozen.

More popular are whitefish breeds: broad whitefish, muksun, nelma and peled. In summer, raw fish may be slightly salted and sliced to make a dish called sugudai.

Pine nuts (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Scone Jam and Pine Nuts

Siberian taiga is predominantly coniferous with pines, cedars, spruces, firs and larches. One of the region’s food symbols are nuts, which are consumed raw or fried, or used in baking. In a recent development, these nuts have become a source of the “pine milk”, a fine substitute for cow milk for the lactose intolerant.

Younger and softer fir and pine scones are brewed into astringent amber-coloured jam, which is both a good dessert and a flavour that goes well with meat. 

Shanga by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Shanga

Siberia’s favourite pastry looks very much like Russian vatrushka. If a vatrushka is a bun with a lower part in the middle for cottage cheese or jam filling, a shanga is rarely sweet and has its filling smeared on top.

The more common varieties of these, in addition to dozens more found in Siberian bakeries across the region, are sour cream and mashed potatoes.

Berries (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Forest Berries

From Evenks and Dolgans to Cossacks and Archangelsk settlers — all Siberians have drawn from the cornucopia of forest berries to flavour their cuisine. Berries are used to this day to bake cake, ferment cabbages, make tea and, of course, jam.

Often, they will be frozen before being added to all manner of dishes from tea to roasted meat. Many indigenous people of Siberia and the Far East are also the only ones to use berries when salting or fermenting fish.

Vareniki (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

You can read more about Siberian cuisine and interesting facts in Curious Facts & Hidden Tastes.

Pelmeni by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Restaurants

Vareniki (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Novosibirsk. Vladimir Burkovsky and Denis Ivanov

Burkovsky and Ivanov, two of Novosibirsk's foremost restaurateurs, have followed different, yet equally successful, approaches to promoting Siberian cuisine. Apart from several restaurants, Vladimir Burkovsky has founded the Centre for Siberian Cuisine, which explores the region's culinary past.  

Novosibirsk. Vladimir Burkovsky and Denis Ivanov

Denis Ivanov founded #SibirSibir first in his native city of Novosibirsk, and then in Moscow. In both cities, the menu designed by brand-chef Natalia Krypenya, relies heavily on Siberian dishes and has garnered popularity. The group also includes Pelmenissimo — a chain of cafes that offer a chance to indulge in a classical Siberian variety of pelmeni. 

BEERMAN NA RECHKE restaurant by BEERMAN NA RECHKE restaurantFederal Agency for Tourism

Novosibirsk. Vladimir Burkovsky and Denis Ivanov

BEERMAN NA RECHKE is a restaurant in Novosibirsk owned by Denis Ivanov. The menu prominently features fish and seafood. Sea bass baked with Ber Blanc sauce and sweet potato mousse, fresh oysters, shrimps on ice and Kamchatka crab — it's the place to taste rare European, Asian and Russian dishes prepared by the chef's team.

Okhotniki restaurantFederal Agency for Tourism

Irkutsk

Tourists who travel to see Baikal almost always stop in Irkutsk giving a boost to the city’s dining scene. Local restaurateurs and chefs are on par with the best in the country, but their home city is always on their minds. 

Okhotniki restaurantFederal Agency for Tourism

Irkutsk

Dmitry Matveyev founded the Baikal-Viza Association that brings together restaurants and hotels in Irkutsk and on the shores of Baikal, including one of the city’s most famous Russian restaurants, Okhotniki. In addition, the association promotes and popularises tourist routes around Baikal. 

Altay_Gastro FestFederal Agency for Tourism

Gorno-Altaisk

Yulia Fominykh is the chef at Tipografia, located at what was once a printing shop, for which she often goes on “recipe hunting” around the region of Gorny Altai to study old cooking books. Her restaurant offers Altai and Siberian dishes with local meat variaties — for instance, wild yak, kurut, kaimak and the baurasaki donuts that have long made home in Altai. Last year, Yulia started a festival of Altai foods that brought together farmers, local food producers and artisans.

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Natalia Savinskaya, Anna Kukulina, Proximity Russia, Alexander Averin, Denis Yershov, Yuliya Romashikhina 

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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