In this post, I will tell you about 10 Russian dishes you will [probably] love. Have you ever been wondering, what do Russians eat? Well, you can finally find out in this Russian food guide!
Whether you’re going to that Russian restaurant in your neighbourhood or you’re planning a trip to Russia, in this post, you will find 10 dishes you can safely try in any Russian cafe and you will definitely like them. After that, I will tell you about 5 worst Russian dishes – even though Russians might love them, you probably won’t! How do I know it? Well, I used to be a tourist guide during my Uni years and 95% of people hated these dishes. Want a challenge? Maybe you will be in the 5% that actually liked these 5 worst Russian dishes.
So here are 10 best Russian dishes that you will probably love :
1. Russian Salad (Olivier)
Okay, the number 1 in this list and my favourite Russian dish is Russian Salad or “Olivje” (Olivier) – that’s how Russians call it. It might be different from the Russian salad you already know/ have tried somewhere else (I’ve seen some crazy variations around: the craziest one that was incredibly far from the original Russian salad was in Indonesia – instead of mayo, it had a sweet yoghurt dressing, instead of potatoes it had rice and instead of sausage, it had pineapple).
The traditional Russian salad consists of boiled potatoes, marinated gherkins, boiled carrots, marinated peas, a boiled sausage and a lot of mayo. If you’re heading to Russia, these restaurants make a great Russian salad. You can also read my post about the best places to eat Russian food in St. Petersburg.
2. Pirogi / pirozhki
If you have ever been to Polish restaurants / tried Polish food, the name “Pirogi” must ring a bell. However, if you compare Russian vs Polish pirogi, they are VERY different. Polish pierogi are very soft dumplings with potato, meat or mushroom filling. In Russia, they are called Vareniki. Russian pirogi are usually enormous pies with various fillings.
Pirogi can be savoury and sweet, small and giant and the recipes depend on the restaurants and people making pirogi. I’d recommend you to try at least one savoury and one sweet, so you see which one you would prefer. The typical fillings include cabbage; meat, eggs and onions; potato and mushrooms; fish and more.
Sweet pies are usually made with wild forest berries, cherries or strawberries.
Pirozhki is a smaller version of pirogi. These are similar to the Argentinian empanadas and British pasties. They are usually round (or oval), small and taste a bit like a brioche. They have the same fillings are their bigger versions.
Blini is a traditional Russian dish, though it resembles French crepes. Russian blini can also vary in sizes and fillings and one of the best chains to try blini in Russia is Teremok (they have 30 different tastes and fillings, you can’t go wrong with so many flavours). The example of Russian savoury blin (singular of blini) – potato mash, beef and gherkins. Or another common one: baked cabbage and egg.
Is a traditional Russian / Ukrainian soup made of beetroot and beef (sometimes, it can be 100% vegetarian). It has a very particular taste, and it’s tough to confuse it with something else. I’m not the biggest fan of beetroot, that’s why I don’t love this soup, but all my non-Russian friends and relatives love it. It’s a heavy soup, so it’s perfect for cold days.
Pelmeni are traditional Russian dumplings that somewhat resemble Chinese dumplings, but I like the Russian ones a bit more. Pelmeni often have a filling of pork, lamb or venison and they are served in a bowl with two spoons of sour cream. Some people prefer eating them with mustard or mayo.
6. “Crab” meat salad
Another common salad that Russians eat (if you have ever been wondering what do Russians eat) is the “Crab” meat salad. This salad is pretty easy to make at home and many families are preparing it for all the family gatherings and events. This salad consists of rice, marinated corn, “crab” sticks and mayo.
7. Open sandwiches with caviar/ canapes.
I hardly know anyone who doesn’t like caviar (salmon roe / ossetra roe). The most common caviar in Russia is the salmon caviar. However, if you want to try something special (that would, however, also cost a fortune), then try ossetra or black caviar. In Russian restaurants, you can usually order a tasting set – they will bring you 15g of the caviar of your choice and a selection of small blinis or pieces of bread. Another common way to eat caviar is actually in open sandwiches. You can try these in Russian cafes, theatres and at home with your Russian friends.
This is another of the dishes Russians usually prepare for any celebrations, from birthdays to work anniversary parties.
The 8th in the list of the best Russian dishes to try is Golubtsi. Golubtsi is rather an unusual dish, but it’s very common in Russia. Golubtsi are made of cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and any type of meat: lamb, venison, pork or beef. It’s not a fancy dish, but it’s filling and it can be very tasty as well!
9. Beef cutlets with buckwheat and pickles
If you’re interested in what do Russians eat in everyday life, that would be the perfect example? Beef cutlets with buckwheat and pickles is a healthy and tasty dish that is somewhat simple (well, Russian food is usually not that elaborated, except for the pirogi that take ages to prepare).
10. Best Russian dishes: the Honey Cake “Medovik”
And the last, but not least of the best Russian dishes is the honey cake “Medovik”. It’s definitely my favourite Russian cake and I haven’t seen any people who didn’t like it. However, if you don’t like honey, some other cakes you can try are: Napoleon, Kiev Cake and Smetannik. Read more about the best desserts to try in Russia in this post.
What about the worst Russian dishes?
Like pretty much any cuisine around the world, Russian food also has its hits and misses. There are dishes that Russians love, but foreigners find them truly revolting. One of these dishes is Salo (which is a typical Ukrainian dish, but it’s very common in Russia as well). Another one is kholodets. Spanish and Italian people usually hate any herring-based dishes. So let’s talk about the worst Russian dishes below.
1. Russian / Ukrainian salo with Paprika
Russian salo is basically smoked and salted fat that somewhat resembles cured bacon or speck. It goes well with a shot of Russian vodka and some rye bread, however, most people find it absolutely disgusting.
2. Kvas (malt)
Kvas is a traditional Russian drink made of bread. It’s very similar to malt. Kvas has a very particular taste and has 0.03% per cent of alcohol. Most of the non-Russian people don’t like this Russian drink, but you never know, you might actually love it!
Kholodets is a dish similar to Aspic. It’s a jellied meat dish that foreigners find extremely odd and rarely like.
4. “Herring under a fur coat” or “Herring in the Shuba coat.”
Another of the traditional Russian dishes has many names in English just because of the translation could be confusing. The Shuba coat means a “fur” coat. This is a layered salad, the lowest layer of which is actuary herring, the fish. And all that is on top of it is described as a “fur coat’. The traditional “Herring under a fur coat” salad consists of herring, mayo, beetroot, eggs, potatoes, onions and sometimes even apples! Nonetheless, it’s delicious.
5. Russian dried / smoked fish
Finally, the last of the worst Russian dishes is the dish that my husband hates the most (my husband is Mexican / Spanish) and can’t even stand a look at. This dish is dried fish. Russians love fishing – they go fishing even in winter, when it’s -20C outside. One of the most common ways to preserve the fish is by getting it dry / remove all water with either wind, smoke, salt or by freezing it.
Summary of the best and worst Russian dishes
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post about the best and the worst dishes in Russia. Have you ever tried any of these? Let me know if the comments down below.
Read my post about 12+ desserts to try in Russia >>>
Are you interested in more posts about Russia? I have many!
Some of the other posts you might like:
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