Borshch is one of the most popular and delicious dishes in Ukrainian cuisine. In 2022 UNESCO placed borshch on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding to protect its cultural heritage.
Borshch is an authentic Ukrainian dish, but its unique feature is that no universal classic recipe exists. Each region and each home cook has their particular version, although the overall cooking process is similar across the country. Here is a fish borshch recipe from Mariupol for you to try.
How to cook a fish borshch
Fish borshch is a traditional dish in southern Ukraine, where the Black Sea ports are located, and fishing has long occupied a special place in the lives of locals. For this recipe, you can use any canned fish — anchovies, gobies, or sprats.
- 120 g beans
- 3 pieces of bay leaf
- 10 g salt
- 1 beetroot
- 3 carrots
- 1 bulb onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 4 potatoes
- 1 dill bunch
- 350 g cabbage
- 40 ml olive oil
- 5 g granulated sugar
- 500 ml tomato juice
- 250 g sprats in tomato sauce (or other fish of your choice)
- 2 liters water
To prepare this dish, you’ll need to follow these steps:
Step 1. Begin by soaking the beans in a small bowl with 250 ml of water for 3 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans afterward. Next, put the soaked beans and bay leaves into a large pot with 2 liters of water. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook the beans until they are soft. It usually takes 30-60 minutes, depending on the beans’ freshness and soaking time.
Step 2. As the beans are cooking, prepare the vegetables and greens by washing and cleaning them thoroughly. Peel carrots and the beetroot and grate them coarsely, chop the onion and bell pepper, cut the potatoes into medium pieces, and finely chop the cabbage and dill.
Step 3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the grated beetroot, sprinkle some granulated sugar, and cook for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Then add the carrot and cook for about 10 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally. Once done, transfer the mixture to a bowl and wipe the pan clean.
Step 4. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into the same frying pan and add the remaining chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s slightly browned and softened, which usually takes 5-10 minutes. Then pour in the tomato juice, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the mixture simmer for 2 minutes.
Step 5. Once the beans are cooked, add the potatoes and beetroot-carrot mixture to the pot. Bring it to a boil and add some salt. Reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes are soft, usually around 15 minutes. Next, add the chopped bell pepper, cabbage, and sprats in tomato sauce, and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, add the onion-tomato mixture and chopped dill. Bring everything to a boil, turn off the heat, and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving. Your dish is now ready, so enjoy your meal!
Features of the local cuisine
The Greeks of Pryazovia are the third largest ethnic group in this region of Ukraine, which has impacted local traditions, including culinary ones. The traditional cuisine of Pryazovia, in general, and particularly Mariupol, is a mixture of Ukrainian and Greek cuisine and local seafood.
Therefore, you will find many fish variations of traditional Ukrainian dishes. For example, in addition to fish borshch, there are recipes for dumplings with fish, shrimp, and chebureky (unleavened, thinly rolled dough with minced meat, traditionally fried in lamb fat). Bakmez, a sweet dish made from the pulp of watermelons, was very popular among sweet dishes. Watermelons were also diced, boiled, and then taken out and dried. The result was a kind of candied fruit called rechel. Nowadays, this dish is rarely cooked.
In conclusion, fish borshch is a delicious and unique twist on the traditional Ukrainian dish, with its roots in the seafood-rich region of Mariupol. While the recipe presented here is relatively simple, there are many ways to personalize it and create a dish that truly represents the flavors and traditions of this region. Whether you are a seasoned home cook or a curious foodie, trying out different variations of fish borshch is a great way to explore the rich and diverse cuisine of Ukraine.