Kremlin Menu Watch, Part 4

Vladimir Putin’s been pretty busy lately. No fishing party this year. He must protect Crimea and the Motherland’s citizens against the anarchy of evil neighbor Ukraine! To recharge his batteries, he was served a seven-course dinner at the 2014 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. On the menu were such delicacies as smoked sturgeon salad, white asparagus soup with caviar, and… Crimean flounder.

I couldn’t find the entire menu, let alone the recipes, so I’ll reiterate my usual complaint: nobody (except maybe a fraction of the attendees) actually gives a damn about what was discussed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Okay, so the theme — “Sustaining Confidence in a World Undergoing Transformation”— is doubtlessly dear to Mr. Putin’s heart, given his fondness for transforming the world at his borders. Now just tell us what all those bigwigs ate!

Kremlin Menu Watch

At a meeting with members of the Russian Direct Investment Fund international expert council and international investors. Photo by the Presidential Press and Information Office.

Let’s dive into the Internet’s archives again for some more presidential culinary tidbits…

In an article from 2010, gazeta.ru tells us that the Kremlin wants to eat more. Skipping any consideration of how many million rubles are spent on this or that, we’re given an idea of the cafeteria menu for the employees of the presidential administration: pike-perch (Swedish style, stewed with herbs, or with Polish sauce), solyanka (meat or salmon), and sweet pirozhki (with apricot or lingonberry). The menu for receptions is a bit more splendorous, though not exactly adventurous: cold venison with juniper berries and lingonberry sauce; salad of squid and octopus with capers; Italian charcuterie; pheasant-blackberry galantines, venison medallions with apples, honey, and berry sauce; trout and seafood coulibiac with caviar sauce; traditional Russian pickles.

Digging further, I finally found a recipe for what’s supposedly one of Vlad’s favorite dishes: “Mrs Putin’s Ukho”, taken from the December 29, 2001 edition of The Times. Never mind that the fish soup is really ukha in Russian, not ukho, and that Mrs Putin is no longer Mrs Putin. At least we’ve got a dish to try!

Kremlin Menu Watch

Lyudmila Putina with Vladimir Putin after his inauguration on 7 May 2000. Photo by the Presidential Press and Information Office.

The recipe is pretty vague about ingredient amounts, and I made several changes so as to list the ingredients in the right order and clarify some of the instructions. Here it is:

Mrs Putin’s fish soup
Yields 4 servings

1 pike-perch
1 pike
1 cup vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine
1 potato, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 onions, peeled
1 bunch parsley
fennel leaves
2 pinches saffron
salt
2 egg yolks
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch curry powder
4 tomatoes
4 celery stalks
4 spring onions
olive oil
cilantro
orange peel

  • Gut and remove the gills from the pike-perch and pike, leaving their scales on. Marinate them for one and a half hours in “sour water” (vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine). Then remove the heads, tails, and skins.
  • Transfer the fish to a pot filled with cold water. Add the potato, carrot, garlic, one onion, some parsley stems, fennel leaves, and a pinch of saffron. Season with salt.
  • Bring to a boil, and then simmer on a low heat for one hour. Drain, keeping the stock.
  • Cut the pike-perch into 1″ strips. Grind the pike and the onion from the stock. Add two egg yolks, and a pinch each of cinnamon, curry powder, and saffron. Mix together, and roll the mixture into balls about 4″ in diameter.
  • Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 15 seconds, then skin and cut into pieces.
  • Finely chop the celery stalks, spring onions, and remaining onion, and sauté in olive oil.
  • Finely chop some parsley leaves, cilantro, and orange peel.
  • Bring the stock back to a boil. Add the fish balls one by one, then add the strips of pike-perch, and boil for ten minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, celery, spring onions, onion, parsley leaves, cilantro, and orange peel. You can also add some of your favorite spices (Lyudmila suggests some more curry powder and saffron).
  • Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before serving.
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