No hiking, fishing or hunting goes without sitting around the fire. You can also recreate the atmosphere of nature at home. You should just recall how the land of Taimyr bestows gifts on people living here.
The original inhabitants of the Taimyr tundra respect their land and the forces of nature more than anything else. Shelter and food, clothing and means of transportation, the ability to travel and create comfort in conditions unbearable for an urban person – all this is taken by the indigenous peoples of Taimyr with respect for nature, thereby setting an example for people far from living in the open air.
Ruslan Asanov, the chef of the Malina cafe, is sure that when starting to prepare northern dishes, you first need to imbue with the philosophy of the people inhabiting this territory.
“If we consider the concept of northern cuisine – dishes made from meat of wildlife inhabitants, – these products can be divided into three categories: venison (the basic food for the peoples of the North), bird meat (goose, duck, partridge, less often other species) and fish. There are several dozen species and names of them in Taimyr”, Ruslan said. – Each of these products contains an exceptional composition of useful and nutritious substances. It’s important to combine and prepare them correctly to reap the benefits and reveal the flavor”.
Ruslan Asanov is from Uzbekistan. In his youth, he acquired at least seven professions, ranging from an electrician and an electric-gas welder to a tailor. But the circumstances brought the young man into the culinary sphere. Perhaps the genes of his own aunt and grandmother – professional chefs – did the trick. For 17 years Ruslan has been preparing and inventing various dishes. In his working biography, he worked in restaurants in Uzbekistan and Moscow. In Norilsk, the chef has been honing his skills in preparing dishes of northern cuisine for seven years, combining it with European.
“Today we will prepare a dish that can be made both in the home kitchen and outdoors by the fire”, Ruslan said. – In the first case, it will only be important to convey its authenticity using some means. So, baked venison and char fillet with lemon.
We need a deer tenderloin (fillet, back), char fillet, herbs (thyme, rosemary, juniper, tarragon), butter and sunflower oil, bell pepper, lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
First, use a burner to douse the herbs with fire. They should be completely burnt to dust. Roll the pieces of deer fillet in charred herbs. This will give the meat a herbal smell, saturate it with the aroma of tundra. Then we proceed to frying. Mix in a ratio of 60 to 40 butter and vegetable oil and fry on both sides for seven minutes. The meat should turn out red with pink juice in the middle.
If we cook outdoors, we do not use forks and spoons as cutlery, but take improvised materials and make everything with our hands. So we keep the nature clean and get the dish exactly in the form in which the indigenous inhabitants of the tundra could eat it. Spruce bark is instead of a plate. I recommend nailing the raw meat to it with chips and letting it stand for a while before frying near the fire to make it more aromatic.
We process the char fillet with spices and herbs – add salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Fry on each side for four to five minutes. So all the heat will go inside. Then let the fish rest for a few minutes.
To add an element of European cuisine to this dish, add grilled vegetables. In our case, it is bell pepper. This garnishing will add color, smell and help differentiate the tastes of fish and venison.
For serving in the tundra, use the same bark. Spread pieces of venison and fish on it, add a slice of lemon. At home, you can take a spruce board. When heated, it releases essential oils and also saturates the dish with a special aroma. Ivan-tea flowers can be both a decoration and a fragrant drink ingredient. Enjoy your meal!”
For more recipes using Taimyr products, see the Taste of the North tag.
Text: Yulia Gubeladze, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko