King Crab, Tsar Fish and Red Caviar

Fish gourmet products to savour in Siberia and Far East

Berries by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


Raw Fish and Grayling Ice Cream
For many years, the traditional Siberian diet consisted of foods that naturally grow or live in taiga or lakes such as herbs, mushrooms, berries and fish. The latter could be smoked, dried and salted. In the Lake Baikal area, fish would be salted, and put on sticks with its tail up. The sticks would be driven into the ground at an angle toward the campfire for the fish to be cooked with coal heat.      

Stroganina by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Siberians eat fish raw by turning it into stroganina or sugudai.

fish place screenshot-1 by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The former can actually be sampled in the North and the Far East as well. The true Siberian way is called raskolotka and consists of hitting frozen fish with a firm object such as an axe shank. The scales are removed, while the raw flesh is consumed by dipping it in salt mixed with pepper.    

Ukha with sterlet (21st Century)Federal Agency for Tourism

The fish regions of Siberia are the Republic of Altai,Krasnoyarsk Territory, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, and Tomsk regions.

People come here to savour Baikal smokey soup or hot-smoked fish. If you ever happen to visit, be sure to try grayling, nelma, whitefish, and omul, the favorite fish of Baikal locals.

Fish in ice (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism


Omul is not endemic to Lake Baikal but it is the Baikal variety that fish lovers prize the most. 

Considered a culinary calling card of the entire region, it can be boiled, fried, smoked, salted, and dried, while omul ukha is considered a true delicacy.

Grayling by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


Called "tsar fish" for its delicate flesh and taste, lightly salted greyling will make an interesting appetizer called sugudai. Under the recipe, raw greyling is diced, salted, peppered and mixed with fine onion rings.

Because of its unusual delicacy, greyling will be thrown into ukha in the last five minutes. Another recipe, this time of greyling ice cream, was invented by Perm chef Maxim Tupitsyn, who salted the fish with currant leaves, added cream and got a Plombiere-style ice cream.

Nelma by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

A rare and tasty fish, Nelma can be consumed even raw as stroganina, in which case it will be finely sliced and served with what is called makalo or a dip such as large sea salt and pepper. 

Tartar from nelma with ham by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Nelma can be smoked and salted with dill, parsley, and bay leaf rounded out by sour herbal infusions.

Stroganina from Broad whitefish by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Broad Whitefish      

More often than not, broad whitefish is served smoked. Juniper smoked, to be precise, after being lavishly salted and then spiced. Restaurants offer a taste of whitefish ceviche in the Russian style where fish is diced and topped with gooseberry puree with citrus juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cape by Vladimir VostrikovFederal Agency for Tourism

Far East      

Cornucopia of Seafood, Caviar Sandwiches and Salmon
The Far East is one of Russia’s chief fish regions, but a true food tourist will come here for seafood.

Cornucopia of Seafood, Caviar Sandwiches and Salmon
The Far East is one of Russia’s chief fish regions, but a true food tourist will come here for seafood.

Boat by Iurii StroikinFederal Agency for Tourism

The prominent Magadan and Sakhalin shrimps, squids, Pacific oysters, urchins, sea cucumbers that are even more numerous there than fish. Kamchatka or king crabs that are delicious enough to boiled without salt or spices crown menus at Far East restaurants.

Scallops is another contender for that crown, consumed raw with lemon and soy sauce or fried in oil. Even shrimps are special in that they live in cold water that makes them fat and tasty.

fish_4 by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

A popular Far Eastern dish is tala or frozen fish stroganina with onions, pepper and vinegar. Another ethnic dish is yukola which is dried or smoked fish soaked and served with ramsons and cranberries. 

Salmon by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


The cold seas of the Far East are home to salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, and sockeye salmon, all valuable species that are sometimes lumped together at restaurants under the umbrella term "Far Eastern salmon" or simply "salmon".  

Salmon, from Fish from American Waters series (N39) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes (1889) by Allen & Ginter|Lindner, Eddy & ClausThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

Salmon has always been prized for its delicate, nearly boneless flesh. It is baked, smoked, dried, and, at times, eaten raw. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was used to make the tasty kalya or a cucumber brine fish soup, a precursor for the modern day rassolnik. A Moscow-style salmon cooking has fried onions, bits of boiled eggs and mushrooms put on the fish before covering it with smetana. 

Dried fish by Vladimir VostrikovFederal Agency for Tourism

The areas of the Far East rich in fish are Primorye, Kamchatka, Khabarovsk, Yakutia, Sakhalin, and Magadan. If you travel there, be sure to sample salmon, muksun, caviar or Kamchatka crab.

Red caviar (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Red caviar of such species as chum salmon, pink salmon, and sockeye salmon began to be produced in the early 19th century, when it was considered a delicacy and was fried, dried, and cooked in porridge. The bestseller product  has come from Kamchatka, but in fact red caviar is produced along the entire shoreline. The smallest and the most expensive variety is that of sockeye salmon. It is bright red and has a tart sour aftertaste. 

Black caviar in the spoon by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


Borsht, vodka and black caviar are the three dishes that Russia is traditionally associated with. Historically, black caviar was not just a royal treat but a favorite meal for people from all walks of life serving as a cold accompaniment for vodka or blini.    

Black Caviar by Бутик-ресторан Art-CaviarFederal Agency for Tourism

In fact, the lighter the caviar is, the more valuable the variety. Today, beluga caviar is considered the best followed by sturgeon and sevruga. Only very wealthy people could historically afford pike caviar, a fact that earned it the name "Tsar caviar". 

Boutique & Restaurant Art-CaviarFederal Agency for Tourism

Black caviar often serves as a gift for Russians and foreigners. Moreover, its geography is not limited to our planet: parcels with black caviar are traditionally sent to the International Space Station for New Year celebrations. 

Caviar pressedFederal Agency for Tourism

Pressed caviar was included to the menu of Russian cosmonauts. The Art-Caviar, a museum and restaurant in Saint Petersburg, received a cosmonaut's glove from the Sokol spacesuit as a sign of gratitude.

Pancakes with caviar (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Today caviar is not something you eat every day. Etiquette rules demand that it should be served in a caviar dish made of glass, porcelain or silver. Blini with Atlantic salmon and red caviar are Russia's traditional dishes. Other common caviar uses include include making sandwiches, dressing salads, and throwing it into red fish rolls or even Olivier salad.

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

Kamchatka Crab      

Kamchatka crab is considered the star of Far Eastern delicacy menu. It's even called "king crab" sometimes. Introduced into the Barents Sea for breeding in the mid-20th century it is currently produced in the Sea of Okhotsk, off Sakhalin Island, the Southern Kurils, in Eastern Kamchatka and in Primorye Territory. 

Crab (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The crab is part of a variety of dishes such as soups, salads, bruschettas, pastas, and risotto. It can be grilled, made into exceptionally delicate cutlets, mousses, ravioli, ceviche, and even ice cream.

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Natalia Savinskaya, Anna Kukulina, Proximity Russia, Translation Services Win-Win, Marina Luzina, Alexey Baulin, Alexander Averin

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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