Taimyr people catch Peter the Great’s favorite fish

Taimyr people catch Peter the Great’s favorite fish

April 18, 2023

The traditional mecca for “river silver” hunters is Dudinka.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In April, the smelt run in the Yenisey begins. Every spring it rises up the river to spawn, and Taimyr fishermen open the season for catching “cucumber” fish, named so because of its characteristic fresh smell.

They say that the Russian tsar Peter the Great was liked smelt very much. The writer Nikolay Gogol also noted the taste of smelt in The Inspector General: the mayor recalled with rapture the taste of cucumber fish.

Smelt is boiled, fried, dried, stewed, salted, smoked. The fish is healthy and low-calorie – 100 grams of raw smelt contains 15-16 grams of protein and 4-5 grams of fat.

Smelt is respected all over Russia – traditionally in St. Petersburg, dozens of the delicacy sale points are opened in April, and a smelt festival is held in Chukotka in spring.

In Dudinka, since April, the entire Yenisey has been dotted with fishermen-fans, and lovers come to the Arctic to “hunt” for cucumber fish. Even women become addicted to fishing, and some come with their families, live in tents with sleeping bags and camping stoves right on the Yenisey.

“It was the coolest fishing in my life. When my father took me to the Yenisey for the first time, I was ten years old. Smelt is, of course, impossible to describe in words: its taste, smell are just great! This fish also has an interesting feature – it lies on ice, gets frozen into stone, you take it in your hands, warm it up – and it comes to life”, fisherman Alexey Danilov shared his emotions.

They say that the luckiest fishermen pull out 30-50 fishes. However, recently hunters for “river silver” complain that there are fewer smelt.

Earlier, Norilsk chefs shared the most interesting smelt recipes in the Taste of the North section. We also wrote how you can combine smelt and Putorana char, which is considered the most useful fish in the world, in one dish.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photos: Olga Polyanskaya, Denis Kozhevnikov and Nikolay Shchipko

April 18, 2023

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