5 taiga recipes from Russia’s Far East

Taiga set in the Studio cafe (deer dolma, venison lula, beetroot salad with fern, pine nuts and berries).

Taiga set in the Studio cafe (deer dolma, venison lula, beetroot salad with fern, pine nuts and berries).

Pacific Russia Food.
Exotic fern, actinidia, wild berries and mushrooms: these and other gifts of nature become mouth-watering dishes in the hands of local chefs.

The Taigafest festival, held every fall in the Russian Far East, invites guests to try dishes made from ingredients from the Ussuri taiga (as the forests of the southern regions of the Russian Far East are called). This year’s festival chefs shared their uncommon recipes with Russia Beyond.

1. Rabbit leg with porcini mushrooms and cranberry sauce

Tender rabbit meat, as prepared by chef Alexander Kazakevich from the Millionka restaurant in Vladivostok, combines perfectly with porcini mushrooms from the taiga forest, sour cranberries and pine nuts.

Ingredients: rabbit leg 300 g, white wine 100 ml, fresh thyme 10 g, vegetable oil 50 ml, potatoes 50 g, carrots 50 g, green peas 50 g, black pepper 5 g, cream 60 g, suluguni cheese 30 g, cedar nuts 10 g, cranberries (or lingonberries) 50 g, sugar 30 g, rosemary 5 g, porcini mushrooms 50 g, honey 20 g, butter 20 g.

Preparation: For the marinade, mix wine, thyme, salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Steep the rabbit leg in the marinade for 8-10 hours.

For the garnish, dice the peeled potatoes and carrots, boil until half-cooked and immerse in icy water. Pour vegetable oil into a hot frying pan, add the potatoes and carrots. Fry until golden brown. Add peas and porcini mushrooms, fry and reduce the heat. Add cream, pepper and white wine. Simmer the vegetables until soft.

For the sauce, add cranberries, sugar, rosemary and water (100 ml) to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and boil off half of the liquid.

Coat the rabbit leg with a mixture of honey and butter. Place in the oven for 20 minutes at 140°C. Put the garnish and the leg in a heatproof dish, and place in the oven for 5 minutes at 180°C. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with grated suluguni and put back in the oven until the cheese is baked. Decorate with pine nuts, cranberry sauce and thyme. 

2. Beetroot salad with fern, pine nuts and berries

The Russian Far East is home to an edible variety of fern – common bracken. It is harvested in May-June, stored up for the year ahead, then actively used in dried, pickled and salted form. Tatiana Lutfullaeva, brand chef at the Studio cafe, shared a salad recipe in which fern (that “relative of the dinosaurs”) is combined with beetroot and wild berries.

Ingredients: fern 100 g, beet 70 g, carrots 30 g, onions 30 g, vegetable oil 20 ml, soy sauce 20 ml, garlic 5 g, sesame oil 20 ml, sugar 5 g, apple cider vinegar 10 ml, lingonberries 15 g, pine nuts 5 g, blueberries 6 g, herbs 2 g.

Preparation: boil unpeeled beetroot until tender. Cool, peel and slice into thin strips. Boil the fern for 3-5 minutes and cut into 5-cm pieces. Cut the carrots and onions into thin strips, fry in vegetable oil and mix with the fern. Add finely chopped garlic and soy sauce. Cool the fern with vegetables to cool. If the fern is salty, soak for 6 hours, changing the water.

For the dressing, combine soy sauce with sesame oil, add sugar, apple cider vinegar and mix. Season with chopped beetroot and fern. Heap on a plate, sprinkle with pine nuts, lingonberries and blueberries (or whatever berries you desire). Garnish with herbs. 

3. Beef with fern and shiitake mushrooms

This recipe from Egor Anisimov, brand chef at Zuma, the largest pan-Asian restaurant in the Russian Far East, combines the traditions of the indigenous peoples and their Asian neighbors. The beef is marinated in Korean galbi sauce and served with shiitake mushrooms, popular in South-East Asia and once part of the imperial menu in China and Japan.

Ingredients: beef brisket 600 g, galbi sauce 100 g, shiitake mushrooms 125 g, fern 300 g, red onion 100 g, garlic feather 30 g, red bell pepper 100 g, yellow bell pepper 100 g, pine nuts 25 g, vegetable oil 100 g, soy sauce (shrimp) 500 g, salt 5 g, sugar 15 g, water 2 L.

Preparation: For the beef, remove excess fat from the brisket, cut into slices 2 mm thick and 2-3 cm wide, marinate in galbi sauce for 30 minutes.

For the shiitake, soak the dried mushrooms in water for 30 minutes, boil for 60 minutes in water with shrimp sauce, salt and sugar over low heat.

For the vegetables, chop the bell pepper, garlic and red onion into strips. Slice the boiled shiitake. Fry the vegetables in vegetable oil until golden brown. Drain in a colander, then fry the shiitake and put in the colander with the vegetables.

Fry the marinated beef slices until tender (can be done over an open fire) and throw the meat in with the vegetables. Next, fry the fern, add all the ingredients, mix, salt to taste.

Decorate with pine nuts and serve.

4. Bruschetta with chicken sous vide, chanterelles and currant sauce

Morning in the taiga forest, says Sergey Totsky, brand chef for the Tokyo restaurant chain, is best greeted with a piece of crispy toasted bread (as if fresh from the campfire), sparkly chanterelles with soft cream cheese and chicken breast. The forest notes are enhanced by red currant berries and sauce.

Ingredients: ciabatta 70 g, cream cheese 40 g, chicken sous vide 50 g, red onion 10 g, chanterelles 50 g, truffle oil 1.5 g, red currants 100 g, water 100 g, sugar 15 g, salt to taste, butter 20 g.

Preparation: Cut a medium-sized piece of ciabatta, singe (or fry) on both sides. Smear with cream cheese, and top with thinly sliced chicken ​​sous vide. Place chanterelles fried with garlic and truffle oil on the chicken. Top with currant sauce and garnish with fresh currants.

For the currant sauce, boil currants with water and sugar, add a little salt and butter.

5. Avocado cream with asparagus and actinidia

This bright, juicy dish is made with the amazingly healthy Far Eastern actinidia berry. It is called “kishmish” (raisin) for its grape-like sweetness, and “little bald kiwi” for its external resemblance to its elder brother and vitamin C richness. Egor Nikolaev, brand chef at the Gusto gastrobar, serves it with voguish vegetables: asparagus, avocado and edamame beans.

Ingredients: avocado 50 g, peeled edamame beans 20 g, asparagus 20 g, Far Eastern actinidia 20 g, chicken broth 50 g, butter 20 g, salt 1 g, thyme 1 g, soybean oil 10 g, fresh basil 1 g, lemon juice 4 g, glucose 3 g.

Preparation: For the avocado cream, peel the avocado and remove the stone. Mix with lemon juice and glucose, and blend until smooth. Run the resulting mixture through a sieve.

For the asparagus sauce, cut the asparagus into 2–3 cm cubes and fry in soybean oil until golden brown. Add edamame beans, chicken broth, salt and butter. Simmer over medium heat until it thickens.

When serving, put the avocado cream on a plate, and add the asparagus sauce on top. Cut the actinidia into rings and place on the sauce. Mix thyme with soybean oil and pour over the dish. Garnish with basil leaves.

READ MORE: 10 delicious regional dishes you’ve probably never heard of 

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