Because of Crimea’s long past history, many nations have been and left their culinary calling cards on the region. This is the reason why that there are certain dishes that can only be found in the Crimea. And this is the case with Crimean Tatar food, it can only be enjoyed by the lucky few who visit the peninsula, perhaps with the exception of Kazakhstan. This type of fare is probably among the best and cheapest you can find in the region. In this blog we look a little deeper at some of the Crimea’s most tasty and unusual dishes.
The Crimean people love their seafood and fish, and although Plaice is a big favourite, Mullus Barbatus is highly regarded. It is not the most beautiful looking fish that ever swam the seas as it has an unusually large head, that is adorned with a type of beard or moustache. The fish has a nickname of Sultanka and it was given this name long ago as supposedly only Sultans were allowed to eat it. Mullus Barbatus was even popular back in Roman times, in fact it commanded huge prices during these times. Servants brought the fish to the table in special pots so that the diners knew exactly what they were eating. The fish is also a big favourite as it is so easy to prepare, cook and its taste is quite singular but very delicious.
Cheburek is a famous dish of the Crimea and the former Soviet countries. Translated Cheburek means pie with meat, and looks like a large dumpling. A good Cheburek should have a golden top that is crunchy and crisp. The dish is made from plain flour and normally includes minced beef or lamb that is mixed with peppers and chopped onions. Not particularly healthy as a dish as the dumplings are deep fried in very hot fat, but they can also be cooked dry giving a healthier option. If the latter is the case, then the Cheburek are called yantyki. The Cheburek differs to its cousins the samosa or the mati, as it has a far more crunchier texture that is quite unusual. The best Cheburek is found in Bakhchysarai in the many restaurants, cafes and street stalls.
Another dish of the sea, these sea snails are particular favourites of many Crimean’s. It was first thought that these exotic sea creatures were bought from Japan, but this has never been proven. Rapana have a unique taste from the food that it eats, namely mussels and oysters. Sometimes these large snails can grow as large as a cup and they really dominate marine life in this part of the Black Sea. So much so that it has nearly wiped out the scallop population. These plump sea snails have a very defining taste of a pickled squid, and are loved by the local people, it unusually contains more protein than most meats.
These three highly unusual dishes from the Crimea are just a sample of the rich cultural heritage that the region’s cuisine holds. Visitors are advised to try the local specialties as they really are not to be found anywhere else in the world.