If you have heard that Ukrainian cuisine is delicious and very interesting, you’ve heard it right. This cuisine combines a traditional European approach to food processing and pairing with a more exotic twist determined by local traditions and the availability of ingredients. So don’t be surprised to encounter familiar dishes with surprising components or serving methods or see the dishes that break the molds altogether.
Want to know more about Ukrainian cuisine, its key dishes, and what to eat first? Read on and be ready to get hungry!
Borshch is legendary, it belongs to the immaterial culture of Ukraine (although it’s very material and hot when in your soup bowl), and it’s unlike any other kind of the first dish you’ve had. It is like food and drink put together, a rich stew of meat and vegetables with a good helping of broth. The key ingredients are red beet that gives sugariness and color to borshch, root veggies, cabbage, and fat, whether in the form of vegetable oil or bacon fried until crispy. The perfect borshch needs to be sour and sweet at the same time, well-balanced, and rich in taste.
Stuffed dumplings as they are. Yet the amount of dough is small, just enough to cover the filling, and fillings vary greatly. Try savory varenyky with cabbage, meat, potatoes, buckwheat, and beans. Do not skip the fried bacon and onions dressing, it is a masterpiece per se. Sweet varenyky with cheese and raisins, with berries, and sweetened poppy seeds make an amazing dessert.
Yes, they are dumplings, and yes, they are special Ukrainian dumplings. They are not filled with anything, it is classic fluffy dough cut into pieces and boiled in water or steamed. Served with sweet or savory dressings, dumplings make a perfect separate meal course or go well as a side dish to meat or soup.
It is commonly explained as lard, but it is closer to bacon. Good salo is both layers of pure fat and thin streaks of meat in one pork cut. When salted, meat and fat ferment slightly, and you get an excellent snack for long storage. Cut it in thin slices, add some garlic, red pepper, rye bread, and horilka (vodka) – and you have an awesome appetizer. Remove vodka and pepper – and it makes a healthy and nourishing snack.
Pyrohy (baked goodies)
No, we do not mean varenyky (these two terms sometimes get interchanged). We mean baked pastries with various fillings, sweet or salty. They can be big cakes then divided into portions, or they can be made as separate small pastries. The fillings are limited by the fantasy of cooks, but traditional fillings are cottage cheese, cabbage, potato, meat, liver, eggs and onions, berries, apples, and poppy seeds with sugar or honey. Savory pyrohy go well with light soups and broths, and sweet ones are perfect for dessert.
Yes, a good pork sausage, with garlic and spices, stuffed into a natural shell, makes a statement on the festive table. It was eaten on big holidays like Easter, and after preparation stored in clay pots covered with pork drippings for preservation. Heat it well on the grill or in the oven, and serve this sizzling-hot and flavorful delicacy with fresh veggies and soft bread.
Cheese pancakes are a hit of Ukrainian cuisine, and when you try them, you’ll understand why. The sweet cheesy texture is accompanied by golden fried crust (good syrnyky are fried in oil). This decadence is topped with fresh cream, honey, or berries. Enjoy them for breakfast or lunch.
A rich rolled cake with sweetened poppy seeds filling is a beloved traditional treat from times immemorial. It goes well with tea, coffee, milk, or juice.
We bet you’re starving by now. So, order supplies, roll up your sleeves, and make yourself a real Ukrainian feast!