Five Recipes Using Russian Fish: From Ukha to Matelot

PHOTO by minadezhda / Depositphotos
Five traditional fish recipes from Russia, which are guaranteed to whet your appetite

We have chosen five traditional fish recipes from Russia to share with you today: from appetisers to main courses, from ukha to assorted fish solyanka and even the carp Matelote recipe cooked by Leo Tolstoy’s wife Sophia – there is a whole sea of opportunities out there!

Mixed Fish Solyanka

Russian fish solyanka soups are traditionally made of least two kinds of fish - one is usually fatty, the others leaner.

Olives, capers and lemon slices were not added to solyanka soups until the end of the 18th century, when it also became customary to gently fry the onions together with pickles before putting them into the soup. Tomatoes are an even more recent addition to solyanka recipes.

Solyanka
Mixed Fish Solyanka

Ingredients
ocean perch500 g
perch1
lightly-salted salmon500 g
onion2 bulbs
vegetable oil2 tbsp
pickles3
cucumber brine (pickle juice)1 glass
bay leaf3
lemons1
olives1 can
capers150 g
saltto taste
ground black pepperto taste
Preparation1 hour 10 minutes
1

Prepare the fresh fish with a sharp knife, removing the heads and tails, then fillet it. Leaving the fillets to one side, place the tails, bones and heads into a deep five-litre saucepan and pour 3 litres of water over them.

2

Bring water to the boil and make stock, carefully skimming the foam from the surface. Then strain the stock into a clean, deep saucepan and bring it to the boil once again.

3

Pour the cucumber brine into a small stew-pan and bring it to the boil, then strain the liquid and add it to the fish stock. Peel the pickles and chop them finely.

4

Fry two finely-chopped onions in a small frying pan until soft, season with salt and pepper and place into the saucepan with the stock, adding the finely chopped pickles.

5

Cut the fresh deboned fish into small cubes. Bone the lightly-salted salmon and cut it into cubes of the same size.

6

Add the fish cubes to the boiling stock. Cook over a medium heat for thirty to forty minutes without letting the soup boil too violently.

7

Add the olives and pickled capers together with their brine to the soup. Carefully mix the soup, cook for another minute and take the saucepan off the heat. Cut the lemon into thin round slices.

8

When the fish solyanka is ready, pour it into shallow bowls and decorate each serving with a lemon slice. Serve immediately.

Fresh perch in the solyanka soup can be complemented with pike perch; light-salted salmon can be replaced by trout or sturgeon.

Ukha with Millet

Ukha is a Russian fish soup. Add vodka and herbs (dill or parsley) to the soup and serve immediately.

You can, of course, cook the soup without adding vodka, but as the saying goes “Ukha without vodka – well, it's just fish soup!”

Ukha
Ukha with Millet

Ingredients
pike1
freshwater fish1 kg
pike perch fillets1 kg
cherry tomatoes300 g
celery stalks2
onions2 bulbs
leek1 stalk
bay leaves2
lemons1
parsley20 g
chicken broth500 ml
potatoes500 g
carrots1
millet200 g
dill 5 g
peppercorns6
vodka50 ml
salt to taste
ground black pepperto taste
Preparation1 hour 20 minutes
1

Cover the gutted pike and freshwater fish with three litres of water, add lemon juice, onions, leek, carrots, celery, parsley and dill. Bring to the boil and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, skimming the foam from the surface. Then add the bay leaves, peppercorns and boil for another 20 minutes.

2

Filter the fish stock, pour into the chicken broth, add the cherry tomatoes, millet and peeled chopped potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and boil again for 15 minutes.

3

Throw in the big pieces of pike perch fillet and cook for another seven minutes. Add the vodka, then serve with finely chopped parsley and dill.

Halibut Baked in Foil

Recipe by Christina Lorentsini from the Christian restaurant in Moscow.

Paltus
Halibut baked in foil

Ingredients
halibut fillet 300g
young carrots 4
leek 2 stalks
garlic 2 cloves
shallot 2 bulbs
cherry tomatoes 10
dry white wine 60ml
olive oil2 tbsp
tarragon 2 stalks
bay leaves2
pink pepper, ground black pepper and salt to taste
Preparation20 minutes
1

Slice the halibut into two equal pieces. Chop the leek, shallots and carrots into large pieces and halve the tomatoes.

2

Line the baking dish or baking sheet with foil; sprinkle with olive oil and add the white wine. Place the vegetables onto the foil, top them with the fish, add bay leaves and other spices. Cover with foil.

3

Bake for 10 min at 200ºC (392ºF).

Matelote of Carp

Matelote is fish braised in red wine; the name of the dish means "sailor-style" in French. The binding properties of the red wine prevent the fish from falling apart during braising. To make the sauce more mellow, use lighter types of red wine that are not too harsh; Pinot Noir is ideal.

This matelote was made in our kitchen by Elena Chekalova, following a recipe she had found in a cookery book compiled by Leo Tolstoy’s wife Sophia.

Solyanka
Mixed Fish Solyanka

Ingredients
ocean perch500 g
perch1
lightly-salted salmon500 g
onion2 bulbs
vegetable oil2 tbsp
pickles3
cucumber brine (pickle juice)1 glass
bay leaf3
lemons1
olives1 can
capers150 g
saltto taste
ground black pepperto taste
Preparation1 hour 10 minutes
1

Prepare the fresh fish with a sharp knife, removing the heads and tails, then fillet it. Leaving the fillets to one side, place the tails, bones and heads into a deep five-litre saucepan and pour 3 litres of water over them.

2

Bring water to the boil and make stock, carefully skimming the foam from the surface. Then strain the stock into a clean, deep saucepan and bring it to the boil once again.

3

Pour the cucumber brine into a small stew-pan and bring it to the boil, then strain the liquid and add it to the fish stock. Peel the pickles and chop them finely.

4

Fry two finely-chopped onions in a small frying pan until soft, season with salt and pepper and place into the saucepan with the stock, adding the finely chopped pickles.

5

Cut the fresh deboned fish into small cubes. Bone the lightly-salted salmon and cut it into cubes of the same size.

6

Add the fish cubes to the boiling stock. Cook over a medium heat for thirty to forty minutes without letting the soup boil too violently.

7

Add the olives and pickled capers together with their brine to the soup. Carefully mix the soup, cook for another minute and take the saucepan off the heat. Cut the lemon into thin round slices.

8

When the fish solyanka is ready, pour it into shallow bowls and decorate each serving with a lemon slice. Serve immediately.

Cod with Cream of Celery

To make parsley oil, blanch and squeeze the parsley dry, then add an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil. Puree the parsley and oil in a blender and sieve through a cloth; collect the oil and discard the parsley.

Cod
Cod with Cream of Celery

Ingredients
cod fillet500 g
celery root500 g
onion bulbs100 g
vegetable stock100 ml
35% cream200 ml
fish stock100 ml
potatoes20 g
parsley oil1 tbsp
vegetable oil0.5 l
wheat flour50 g
sugar, saltto taste
Preparation40 minutes
1

Slice the cod into portions, season with salt and bake at 180°C for seven to eight minutes.

2

For cream of celery, chop peeled celery roots and 50g of onion. Fry in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until golden brown. Add the vegetable stock and 100ml of cream. Stew until the sauce thickens and there's no liquid left. Blend until smooth and season with salt and sugar.

3

For fish sauce, mix strong fish stock and 100ml of cream, then boil the potatoes in the stock to make it thicker and puree the mixture with a blender. Next, strain off the excess liquid and season with salt. Add the parsley oil and mix together.

4

Cut the remaining onions into rings, roll the onion rings in the flour and deep-fry them. Remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel. Chop the onion finely once it has cooled down.

5

Arrange the celery puree and the fish on the plates. Add the fish sauce and garnish with deep-fried onion.

Author: Olga Astakhova

Photos: Sergey Leontiev, Kamil Guliyev, Sergei Patsyuk