Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

"Love for Stroganina Unites Us"

Thinly sliced frozen fish is the North's most international specialty

12 december 2022

On December 10, Yamalskaya Stroganina 2022, a culinary festival and competition, was held in the village of Yar-Sale in Yamal. Five of the finest chefs from throughout the peninsula had to fight a fierce battle for the victory.

It would appear that making stroganina is simple enough: just take some raw, frozen fish or reindeer meat, slice it thinly enough, and voila! Yamal chefs have, however, demonstrated that nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Each component, from the slices' length and thickness to the resulting curls' elasticity, could alter affect the dish's appearance and flavor. Success is largely dependent on talent, focus, self-assurance, and your knife's sharpness.

The victory was ultimately claimed by Alla Tayshina, a Khanty from Aksarka village. In turn, Yar-Sale's very own Albert Serotetto demonstrated that cooking meat remains a man's job yet, coming up with unrivalled reindeer stroganina. Yamalskiy District's head awarded the winners cups, along with certificates worth RUB 100,000.


Two days later, on December 12, another Arctic region - Yakutia - followed suit, holding a fish stroganina cook-out. At the Stroganina-Tala festival and competition in Yakutsk, seven teams competed in the art of making delicious shavings. They had to demonstrate both speed and proficiency in traditional slicing techniques. The local Evenki Association's team handled this challenging task the best.

Great crowds flocked to the Yamal and Yakut festivals. In the end, they were the real winners, as they enjoyed the chance to feast on stroganina by the very best chefs. As far as stroganina is concerned, everyone in the North is a connoisseur, as it is a staple and favorite in all but a few Arctic regions. Ask a Yukaghir, Nenets, Yakut, Komi, or Inuit, and everyone will confess their love for it. Indeed, it is the most international Arctic dish, and perhaps the most storied one, to boot. After all, Northern seas are teeming with fatty, delicious fish, which is perfect for making stroganina.

"That's what brings us Sakha people together," confesses the Yakut Ereli Kencheeri. "Love for stroganina unites us."

Finding flawless fish is the first step in preparing the Arctic's main delicacy. "Ice fishing is the only proper way to get it right. The fish must be caught alive and shock-frozen right away," Ereli Kencheeri explains.

The Arctic is the world's best freezer. A live fish goes rock-hard almost instantly after being pulled out of a hole and thrown on ice. Conversely, fish that died while in the nets is no good for stroganina. To treat a guest to fish that was allowed to go dormant would be the worst possible insult in the North. A smaller fish would also be a subpar choice, since it doesn't contain nearly as much fat as fully grown one, and only very fatty fish, such as chir, muksun, nelma, pidschian, omul or sturgeon, makes good stroganina.


It is still necessary to prepare the fish properly after catching it. "Get the fish out of the balcony or wherever you are keeping it cold. Then, let it sit on your counter at room temperature for a bit. I really can't say for how long. You just mustn't miss the window of opportunity when the fish is still frozen but has thawed enough for you to cut into it and get the skin off. The skin is removed either with pliers or a man's strong, deft hands," Ereli Kencheeri explains. "Once the skin is gone, the slicing begins. You need to cut it thin."

The first shavings—those with the red or pink layer—will be the most sumptuous because this is the fattest, juiciest part of the fish. If you do everything properly, your stroganina will have an unparalleled flavor.

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