Almost immediately upon returning from a trip abroad, one can expect friends, family and co-workers to start asking a bunch of questions: what was your favorite spot, what was the most memorable experience, what was the food like. The food question is one we get a lot, so we decided to start putting together a list of the foods we like best from around the world and when possible, the recipes to go with them, so if you are not feeling like flying halfway around the world to experience some tasty treats, you can prepare them yourself at home. First up in this new and somewhat regular series we are calling Recipes From The Road, окрошка (okroshka).
окрошка is a Russian cold soup with a nice little tang to it and it is the perfect refreshing snack or meal on a hot summer day. One of the key ingredients in окрошка is квас (Kvass), which is a 5,000 year old fermented drink made from rye bread. It’s hard to describe the taste of квас, (fizzy maple syrupy sweet juice???), but when served chilled, it is quite refreshing. Just keep in mind that as a fermented beverage, квас actually has a bit of alcohol in it, but not enough to keep people from serving it to kids, and it is classified as non-alcoholic in Russia. квас is somewhat hard to find outside of Russia and Eastern Europe, but you can buy it online and there are some specialty European supermarkets, like M & I International Market in southeast Denver, that stock it… it is just not as fresh as the квас you would buy from the portable tank on the side of the road.
If you can’t find квас, there are some substitutes like kefir in the recipe below that can take it’s place, but it won’t be fully legit окрошка. The same goes for another key ingredient, сметана (sour cream). Plain sour cream in the USA just doesn’t taste the same as Russian сметана, but again, there are some substitutes if you can’t find сметана at an international market.
Oкрошка (Russian Cold Soup)
1 quart квас and a dollop or two of сметана… or plain kefir/water (at a 2-1 kefir to water ratio)
1/4 cup chopped зеленый лук (green onions)
1/4 cup chopped укроп (dill)
sliced редис (radish)
1 small огурец (cucumber) sliced and diced
3 яйца (hard-boiled eggs) diced
2 medium картофель (potatoes) boil with skin and dice
Mix ingredients together and serve chilled… приятного аппетита!!!