Appetizing and informative: national recipes and fish lifehacks from the Khanty people
When a northerner sees stoganina (shavings of frozen raw fish) their mouth starts watering. The indigenous inhabitants of Yamal even get warm with this frosty dish. Now it is almost 50 degrees below zero outside and they keep on cutting the fish. About experienced stomachs of aboriginals and cooking recipes of the Khanty grandfathers you will learn from a free master-class of Elena Safonova, a correspondent of vesti-yamal.ru.
Curly shavings of broad whitefish still smell with frost. Within 5 minutes Nikonor Stepanovich transforms this handsome Ob fish into a delicious dish. Everyone who is watching the process has their mouth watered. And the grating of the frozen fish is works up the appetite even more.
It is no wonder northerners say that stroganina is “the queen at the table”. It is very simple - fish, salt, bread… But it gets swept away like our dish of herring with vegetable coating. It turns out that after a hard day of work reindeer herders and fishermen get warm not with a hot tea, but with frozen raw fish.
“Reindeer herders migrate when it is minus 40 degrees, they ride their sledges which creak and almost get broken. First of all, they eat frozen meat or fish,” says Evdokiya Rugina, a resident of Pitlyar village.
This dish is an appetiser, it works up your appetite. Just like malosol (semi-salted fish). The Khanty and the Nenets people learnt to salt fish from the Russians. In the 18th-19th centuries it was eaten without salt in the tundra. Semi-salted fish is especially good with tea and white bread. By the way, if a hostess treats you with semi-salted fish with skin and scales, she is not lazy, she is making sure that the fish does not get spoiled.
“We can cut it with the skin. In case some fish is left over, it will not get dry. We have no refrigerators here in the tundra. And if you do like that, it will immediately get dry,” says Lydia Neva, a resident of Pitlyar village.
The Khanty cuisine is inconceivable without fish. For them, it is like potatoes for the Russians. The indigenous people of the North know a lot of ways how to preserve and cook it. They even make jelly from scales. And we tried two types of fish soup - white turbid broth from the pike and yellowish clear one from the broad whitefish. By the way, the Khanty people eat fish soup in a special way: fish is eaten separately from the broth.
“We put the boiled fish in a common bowl and pour the soup in separate pieces of tableware. It can be a cup, a mug or something like that,” shares Galina Surkova, a resident of Pitlyar village.
The festive dish, a fish pie, should be eaten carefully. In accordance with a traditional Khanty recipe, it is cooked with bones. They say it tastes better this way. Now they have brought something airy that reminds braids of smoked string cheese on a traditional wooden platter called khuvan. However, northerners do not have dairy products in their diet. It turns to be a traditional means of hygiene - frozen shavings of wood.
“When there were no napkins, all Khanty people used that.” -“Don’t they do so now?” -“No, they don't. Now we have napkins,” says Lydia Neva, a resident of Pitlyar village.
We tried this household anachronism with our own hands. The fish is fatty, so we will see how it works. If it really makes the hands clean. Actually, this is even better than a napkin since it has a rough texture, so, in fact, it works.
The North strengthens not only your character, bit also your stomachs. You will never eat much of khalanvoy - something like butter for the Khanty people. It is made of internal fat or reindeers. It is eaten after melting or just like that with some bread.
The aboriginal cuisine is specific. The very nature provides the humans with such a set of products that enables them to survive in our latitudes. Take, for example, pancakes made from reindeer blood. They are useful for health because blood is rich with iron, so it increases the level of haemoglobin. They were cooked by a young hostess Julia, she also treats everyone with a substantial dish made from reindeer meat.
The roast includes ribs, stomachs and large intestine. All that is stewed with some salted water. Porridge from millet with meat is called salamat in the Khanty language.
“For some reason the Khanty call it “red cereals”, but it is yellow in colour. I learned how to cook it not so long ago,” says Nina Koneva, a resident of Pitlyar village.
Almost all Khanty recipes have a small number of ingredients - two or three maximum. Nevertheless, the northern citizens have managed to create a healthy cuisine from this meagre food supply. Many new things have been included into the Khanty diet, but traditional dishes are also kept. They are simple to cook, do not cost much, do not take much time, but they satisfy one’s huger well and they are healthy.