The Story Of Exotic And Dangerous Russian Fish Eating Habits

Gala with exotic fish photo

Gala, Charlotte, NC 2010. The fish was given by my friend Adina

You might not be aware of this, but Russians have fish-eating habits that are just about as dangerous and exciting as eating Japanese Fugu (blowfish)! Here is my story.

The Fish In Our Kitchen Surprised My American Husband

       I have a friend, her name is Adina. She is might be a little more unusual than most of my friends because of her passion for fishing. While most of my other women friends pass the time knitting, sewing, or cooking. Adina takes pride in striking out to beautiful lakes in North Carolina state of the USA and catching armfuls of fish. She knows much more about fishing than most people for sure!

     When Adina has a great day of fishing, many of her friends and family get some beautiful freshly caught fish. One day, my family was given a common carp – also known as a sasan fish.

    While I was familiar with the fish in front of me, my American-born husband wasn’t. Naturally, he started to Google it and came up with this interesting for him recipe. You start by seasoning the fish, before placing it on the shingle and baking it. Then, you throw away the fish itself and eat the shingle. At the end of searching and learning on Google, he said, he is not going to eat this fish because it is too dangerous.

   The thing that my husband found interesting about the fish was the bones throughout it. It’s a member of the carp family so, naturally, it had a huge number of extremely tiny bones. Herein lies the danger – it’s impossible to remove the bones before cooking, so you must cook the fish with them still inside. The care comes in eating the fish, and delicately removing the meat from around the bones. As I had eaten bony fish all my life, this wasn’t news or any difficulty to me. On the other hand, my husband was shocked about the danger to eat it, to say the least, because he had never eaten fish with these tiny bones in it and didn’t have any interest to try.

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Skills We Need To Know To Eat The Fish

Sasan Fish With Bones Photo

Charlotte, NC 2021. Common fish in Russian speaking community

       My mom (she lives in Siberia, Russia) eats a lot of fish. She probably wouldn’t need to change her diet much to eat fish for every meal! When my husband shared the joke recipe with me, I made sure to tell the joke to my mother. Wisely, she responded by saying that people certainly do need skills to eat very bony fish. Skills? I was surprised.
To be honest, I was taken aback! Eating bony fish was such a large part of my childhood that it never occurred to me that it could be dangerous or in any way strange. We were taught at a young age how to separate the bones from the meat, and all about the structure of the fish itself. Looking back, it is quite something that we were given such bony fish to eat!

      While we’re on the subject of tiny bones in fish, I just want to share a quick tip with you. If, when you’re eating bony fish, an accident happens and little bones get stuck in your throat – chewing bread is the answer. Take a large bite of bread, and chew it very well before swallowing. It works to push the bone out of the small parts of your through, to where it will be digested in your stomach.
If the bread doesn’t work, get to the emergency room!

      With that said, no one I’ve ever known personally has had that problem with bony fish. While we’ve all had little bones in our throats, we’ve all had the bread method to sort us out (very seldom, because we have the skills).
I was reminiscing with my friend Larysa about childhood memories of stupendous fish dishes, and I asked whether she’d had a bone stuck in her throat. Without missing a beat, she said that she had, and the bread method had always worked for her. She also said that the crust of the bread works better to remove stuck bones than the soft center does – so that’s worth bearing in mind when eating bony fish.
Larysa asked me what Americans do when they have a similar accident when eating bony fish. I told her that Americans simply don’t eat very bony fish, and she was very surprised!

      You might think that the only reason we eat this oddly dangerous fish is that boneless fish isn’t available. Well, that isn’t the case – we just love this bony fish! We’ll always have it on our menu, the taste is delicious.
While I don’t really want to pass this recipe and these skills on to my grandkids (since it could be so dangerous), I know I want them to learn this part of their Russian heritage.

      The photo below is from my sister’s kitchen. Her husband loves to fish, so she sent me a photo of some of the ones which she fried after he caught them. These fish have a lot of tiny bones too – she has the same fish-eating skills as I do!

Russian exotic fish eating habits

Novosibirsk, Russia

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Another Unusual Russian Fish Dish

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It might surprise you to know that Russians also eat raw fish! Most people haven’t heard of stroganina, and there’s no shame in that – it’s a rare dish!
It’s very common in the North of Russia, and it includes raw fish eaten as sashimi. I got lots of information about why we eat this raw fish, along with photos and videos too, take a look here: Exotic Russian Raw Fish Dish Stroganina

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