Ukrainian cooking uses black pepper, red pepper, salt, bay leaf, parsley and dill (usually in spring and summer), garlic and onion. Staples include potatoes, cabbage, fish, pork, beef and sausage. Ukrainian people eat many dishes made of potato. During the Soviet era, there were chronic shortages of food. However, as Ukraine is an agricultural country, today there is much meat in the market (beef, pork, chickens, turkey) as well as cheese, butter, bread and milk. However, for some items, notably cheese, prices are still very high. The core of the Ukrainian cuisine originates in the peasant dishes based on grains and staple vegetables like potatoes, cabbage, beets and mushrooms. Meat is an important ingredient in most Ukrainian dishes, and it is prepared in different ways, either as stewed, boiled, fried or smoked. Popular Ukrainian snacks include the varenyky and the most appreciated traditional dish is pig fat called salo. The fact that Ukrainians preserve and age salo as one of their most prized national cuisine elements should give you an idea about the overall style of the Ukrainian cuisine it is not a suitable one if your goal is to stay thin. Borscht originated in Ukraine and it is the national soup although bortsch is now an international dish that is also very popular in surrounding regions, such as parts of Russia and Romania. Ukrainian restaurants are not the number one place to go when you are looking for a traditional Ukrainian meal the best way to experience the Ukrainian cuisine is at a home made meal. [6., 110]
Cuisines of Ukraine
There are no distinguishable cuisine types in Ukraine, but a variety of different influences can be noticed by a careful eye. The neighboring countries have influenced the Ukrainian cuisine, much as the Ukrainian cuisine influences the regional and national cuisines of the neighbors. The Lviv or Lutsk regions of Ukraine, for example, display a cuisine that resembles the Polish cuisine, with pork meat being the main ingredient for most dishes. The north-eastern provinces, such as Sumy, Kharkiv or Luhansk show influences from the Russian cuisine, while the southern part of Ukraine has several recipes that are specific to Moldova and Romania. Agriculture has always been used extensively in Ukraine and wheat, rye, oats and millet were the main ingredients for any meal for centuries. Bread was and still is one of the food elements that are never absent from a Ukrainian meal. Bread is used with soup and the main course, although sometimes it may be left aside if the dish contains potatoes or pasta. Bakery was also present since immemorial times and all grain based food products used in the past are still present today, in one form or another. Meat is yet another essential element in the Ukrainian cuisine. Hunting was extremely popular in Ukraine and it ensured a large proportion of the meat that Ukrainians consumed. Wild animal meat was gradually replaced by farmed animal meat. Fish is also popular with a large variety of dishes, and there are hundreds of fish species that are used in delicious dishes.
Preparation methods of Ukrainian cooking
The simple and rustic cooking style that characterizes a large percentage of the Ukrainian cuisine is also complemented by modern dishes that are extravagant and unique, most of them developed by international Ukrainian chefs. The Ukrainian cuisine uses elements from various cooking traditions borrowed from their neighbors and developed from their own traditional dishes. While there are no specific or unique preparation methods for Ukrainian cooking, we should point out that attention to detail is important in the Ukrainian cuisine. Each traditional dish has a special cooking method, which is more or less general in all of the countrys regions. Meat is one of the main elements of most Ukrainian dishes and cured and smoked hams, poultry, pork and beef fillets, and bacons are often parts of delicious dishes. Smoked fish as well as other fish meat types are widely appreciated, and cooking styles may differ from highly specialized restaurant cooking to simple, rustic cooking methods. Although the traditional cooking styles for most Ukrainian dishes go back to hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, today most cooking is quite similar to any western European cuisine. [6., 112]
Special equipment of Ukrainian cooking
Here are a few of the equipment items you might find in a Ukrainian kitchen: cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishers and portioners, food pans and food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops and fryer baskets and accessories. The Ukrainian cuisine needs a diverse cooking equipment set in order to produce the most sophisticated Ukrainian dishes, but the traditional recipes can be cooked with only a fire source and a few pots and pans. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking “toolbox”, especially if you are determined to make the most out of any meal you prepare and serve. Here are a few other items that will come handy while cooking Ukrainian food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups and measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls and skimmers and strainers. All of the enumerated items can and will be useful at some point, but they are more likely to be specific to restaurants, rather than traditional Ukrainian homes.
Ukrainian food traditions and festivals
Although most Ukrainian festivals involve the culinary arts to a certain extent, Christmas is the most predominant holiday where food plays an important role in the festivity. Ukrainian Christmas customs are based not only on Christian traditions, but to a great degree on those of the pre-Christian, pagan culture and religion. The Ukrainian society was basically agrarian at that time and had developed an appropriate pagan culture, elements of which have survived to this day. A kolach (Christmas bread) is placed in the center of the table. This bread is braided into a ring, and three such rings are placed one on top of the other, with a candle in the center of the top one. The three rings symbolize the Trinity and the circular form represents Eternity. Kutia is the most important food of the entire Christmas Eve Supper, and is also called Gods Food. A jug of uzvar (stewed fruits, which should contain twelve different fruits) and is called Gods Drink, is also served. After all the preparations have been completed, the father offers each member of the family a piece of bread dipped in honey, which had been previously blessed in church. [9., 12]
This is a favorite Ukrainian delicacy. We use it in many forms- uncooked and fried, smoked and salted, baked and boiled. Also, we fry it, cook crackling and even eat it with honey!
Ukraines widespread fondness for pork products results from its historical conflicts with two of its neighbors- Tatars and Turks. Cattle were a much- prized spoil of war so they were often in short supply, and bullocks, which were used to pull ploughs, were not exactly edible. Pigs were both available and relatively delicious and tender, so pork became a staple.
A choice for First Dish is Borsch. Although the word “borsch” is not translatable, it is famous all over the world. It is difficult to imagine that there is a person on the planet who has never eaten borsch! It is famous, popular and delicious- a must-do on everyones list of dishes to experience.
So, what is this famous dish? How it is cooked and what should it be eaten with? At firs glance, everything seems simple. Sugar beets are the signature ingredient and borsch is a kind of beet soup. But not everything is as simple as it looks. There are more than thirty varieties of this dish in Ukraine alone, and other versions are prepared in Russia, Poland and even in the United States! So, there are different types of borsch- meat and meatless, hot and cold, with mushrooms, with kidney bean, with prunes, with marrows, turnips, and even with apples! Meat borsch is also varied- it may include beef or chicken. Some recipes recommend the addition of mutton, or goose- grease, and sometimes ham or sausages.
The cooking process for borsch is unique in that all ingredients, including the beets, are prepared separately! Beets should be sprinkled with lemon juice or vinegar in order to preserve their color and then they should be cut and roasted. Afterwards they are peeled, diced and added to the borsch. In the beginning, onions, carrots, parsley are fried together for 15 minutes and tomatoes (