What to Eat? Authentic Russian Dishes to Try in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, by Cathleen Calkins


Photo: JATM

Like all large urban city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky serves up an eclectic mix of traditional Russian foods as well as imported favorites, such as Korean Kimchi, Chinese noodles and even pizza and French fries. But your best bet is to stick to much-loved Russian fare. It’s as much a part of your Russian experience as observing Kamchatka’s magnificent landscape.


Much like Alaska, commercial fishing dominates Petropavlovsk’s economy. You’ll find salmon, King Crab and trout are abundant menu choices.


Fish market in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Photo: JATM


Red caviar, a famous Russian delicacy. Photo: JATM


While Borscht wasn’t originally Russian, it is none-the-less a symbol of Russian cuisine. An earthy quality to this soup can be attributed to the fresh vegetables used; particularly beets, which gives Borscht its familiar rich, red color. Garnished with a lump of sour cream and a slice of sour brown bread, Borscht is served in a bowl hot or cold. There is a saying in Russia that Borscht should be so laden with vegetables as to hold up a wooden spoon positioned in the center of the pot.


Borscht is one of the symbols of Russian cuisine. Photo: JATM


My first taste of pelmeni was as a guest at a dacha outside the town of Ulan-Ude, a central Siberian stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway. It was so delicious, I’ve committed myself to always order a dish of Pelmeni every time I visit Russia. The traditional Russian dumpling is made from dough stuffed with minced meat, such as beef, lamb or pork, and seasoned with fresh dill, onion, black pepper and salt. As with Borscht, Pelmeni is served with a dollop of sour cream.


Blini is a thin-style Russian pancake stuffed with just about anything you desire – from savory to sweet. They can make up the bulk of your breakfast or as a sugary finish to your evening meal.


I find these are best purchased from a roadside cart and even better if you allow the woman selling them to choose for you. I found this advice to ring true on a along a lonely stretch of the Kamchatka Peninsula’s North-South highway. At a small village called Ganally, the bus I was riding pulled to a stop at a market on a dusty stretch of road. Outside was a middle-aged babushka selling fresh pirozhki from her two-wheeled cart. She smiled and laughed with us as we attempted to decipher which of the fist-sized pies to purchase. Finally, she made the decision for us, bagging up four pirozhkis just as our bus was about to pull away. On the rest of our bus ride to Petropavlovsk we were pleased to sample one delicious pirozhki after another – one filled with beef, one with potato, one with blueberries and the last with an identifiable sweet reddish berry we thought might be locally grown cowberries.


Shashlik is to Russian as back-yard bar-b-qued hamburgers are to Americans: it’s a food built around the social dining. It is made up of slowly-fried meats, such as chicken or lamb, cut into bite-sized chunks skewered and finished on a grill.


A man is preparing shashlik in the back yard. Photo: JATM.

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