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Stroganina is a Traditional Raw Fish Dish from Northern Russia

Photo Lubov is trying Russian dish Stroganina

Luba is trying dish Stroganina. City Yakutsk, Russia

        Dish Stroganina ( строганина ) dates back hundreds of years in Russian culture. At first, it appears to be a very simple dish – just very thin slices from deep-frozen raw fish, with salt and pepper. Your reaction, probably, “Wild people!”. I understand this reaction, especially from people who live in a warm climate. However, this ability to eat raw fish and meat, helped people survive very harsh Russian winters hundreds of years ago. It is still eaten in raw fish dishes in our culture today.

       I am originally from Novosibirsk, Russia where the climate is much milder than in Yakutsk. I remember a time when I have to go to University and a thermometer was around – 40 Cº. Schools close but universities and college students have to go study without exceptions. I ride a bus for 1 hour which is warm and comfortable but after. The bus stop was 10 minutes from my Alma mater (НЭТИ) and I was walking on the street with many small stores, which was very helpful! I had a few stops at stores to take a break from this harsh and very cold air. I know, what winter can be like in Siberia. It is the reason and explanation, why we have so many dishes with frozen ingredients. But today, I am introducing part of our cooking culture – a frozen fish dish called stroganina which is actually a Russian version of sashimi.

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       Photo Russian Dish Stroganina is raw fish


      There are many factors to make this dish authentically. First, and most important, is the kind of fish. The fish needs to be fatty, as they carry no diseases. For example, fish from my childhood from Novosibirsk – sterliad ( стерлядь ). This fish doesn’t have bones only cartilage, very delicate and super tasty fish, and considered a delicacy. I live in the USA and try many kinds of fish but nothing even close to good wild Siberian fish, maybe because we live far away from Alaska.   

     Another factor for good stroganina is the season when the fish was caught. The fish should be of very good quality. The fish need to be deeply frozen immediately after being caught. The weather can be so cold in the North of Russia, much colder than I described at Novosibirsk! So when fishermen take out of the water fish and place them on the ice, fish freeze naturally. On the fish market, they don’t need freezers in the wintertime, fish are just placed in boxes and stay frozen by themselves. By the way, many families at Novosibirsk use the balcony as a freezer in wintertime. I didn’t live in Yakutsk but I am sure they do too, and they much longer have a natural freezer. 

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         The fish is cut with a very sharp knife, into curls, so the pieces will not stick together and stay frozen at the table, the longest. When the fish melts, it is not good to eat it raw. It is served preferably on a wooden tray or on ice because it keeps stroganina frozen longer.

Photo Lubov Presents Russian Dish Stroganina

Lubov Presents Russian Dish Stroganina

The woman Lubov and her husband in the photos are the winners of Stroganina Festival 2015.

     Modern-day restaurant versions, usually serve with dipping sauces called “mocalo” or “zapravka”. In the photo below chef served stroganina in a large ice bowl.

Russian Northern cuisine includes frozen fish in other dishes too. For example, the salad “Indigirka” includes frozen fish diced with spices, caviar, onion, and sauce. 

Photo Indigirka Russian Salad With Raw Fish

Salad Indigirka served in a bowl made from ice.

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     Stroganina is more common in Russia, like the Sakha Republic of Russia than where I am from in Siberia. In Northern Russia, they have festivals celebrating this dish. Man does whittling with own custom made a knife. Everybody has secrets of this art keep by generations and practicing from a young age.

     Masters of this art, make curls of fish beautifully like flowers and other composition, it is very interesting and entertaining. Masters have different techniques for whittling. 

   Every winner of the festival getting the memorable trophy. On the photo, a girl dressed in traditional Russian costume and holds Stroganina festival 2016 trophy.

    What is the competition about? It is about who can cut as thin as possible pieces, how high stack is and which fish stay frozen longer and of course time is important too.

The judges of the festival most respectful people in the city Yakutsk.

    It is good to preserve this historical dish in our culture, an appreciation and respect to our Mother Nature that gives us the ability to survive in a very harsh climate.



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     On the photos below art of serving examples of stroganina from festivals at city Yakutsk, Russia

     Photo Russian Raw Dish Stroganina Swan


     We eat unusual for cooking in the USA and dangerous to eat fish. It is normal to me and my friends all our life but when I move to the USA, I learned it is dangerous habbit to cook and eat some fish. Read more → Russian Exotic Fish Eating Habits



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I like to say, “Thank You!” to the owner of Russian newspaper “Iakutia.info”. He helped me with this article to provide more inside information about stroganina, so people in the world learn more about our culture. I appreciate it very much! 

I like to say, “Thank You!” to the Administration of city Yakutsk, Russia to give me permission to use photos belongs to them on my website, so the World can see and learn more about our culinary traditions from the North of Russia.

I like to say, “Thank You!” personally to Lubov for permission to use her personal photos on my website. (Photos with logo Luba). Luba is a happily married mother of five beautiful girls, she is a citizen of Yakutsk, Russia. Luba and her husband were winners of 2015 Straganina Festival.

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4 replies
    • Gala
      Gala says:

      It is actually impossible to try because of the type of fish and freshness if you live outside of Russia. I read some restaurants at large cities at Russia offer stroganina. However, raw fish is not for everybody to try. It is so exotic :)


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