Ukha, fish soup for dinner at the dacha

We're continuing to cook at the dacha. Today we're going to prepare the fish soup ukha, one of the oldest dishes in Russian cuisine.

The closest international equivalent to ukha is bouillabaisse which is widely popular in France and Latin American countries. In the last 200 years, ukha’s come to mean an exclusively fish soup (on that point, up until the end of the 19th century, Russian cookbooks included ukha recipes that used chicken broth).

Ukha’s taste directly depends on the fish that you use. Salt and fresh salmon, trout, cod, and sturgeon or sturlet make a great choice. Rockfish or burbot make for good ukha.

The thickness and density of the broth is what makes ukha different from regular fish soup. This is produced by the amount of time it takes to boil the fish and the amount of water used.

However, you can change the contents and thickness of your ukha according to your preferred taste. There is, for instance, triple ukha—a very complex recipe—that includes boiling three kinds of fish and then mixing them together. A lot of people think that the best ukha is the kind you can add antonovka, a very acidic fall-winter apple, to by plucking it straight from the tree, along with a shot of vodka to give the soup a light bitter taste.

pikeperch - 1 pc

carrot - 1 pc

potatoes - 2 pcs

onions - 2 pcs

lemon - 1 pcs

barley - 300 g

bay leaf, clove

savory, saffron

salt, pepper, dill

Here's how we make it:

1) We’re going to make it using pikeperch. We’ll start by taking off the fish’s scales, gutting, and washing it. Some people use the pikeperch’s head and innards and roe (eggs), but that’s for those who like it. Cut the fish into big chunks.

2) Put the fish into a pot. Throw in two whole onions so that they don’t fall apart because we’re going to boil them for a long time. Now chop carrots into large chunks.

3) Now add just a bit of water. This is the kind of dish that’s hard to spoil by making it thick.

4) Add spices. Bay leaf is a must, as well as clove, salt, and pepper. We’ll also add some savory and saffron. Let it simmer on medium heat for a couple of hours.

5) As it cooks, you have to remove the foam the forms in order to keep the broth clear-colored.

6) Half an hour before we’re done cooking, add potatoes and barley. Chop potatoes in large chunks. Ukha should be thick. That’s why some use starch or flour to make it thicker.

7) Before eating, you can add a little dill and lemon juice. Bon appetit!

Learn more about Russian cuisine!

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