The main Siberian product is meat, rich in protein and saturated fat. The locals eat a lot of meat in any form. No matter how cold the weather is, this kind of diet will make you handle the weather without any problems. Fish such as omul, endemic to Baikal, whitefish and grayling is popular as well. And, of course, the Siberian cuisine would not be the same without taiga herbs, berries and nuts.

This review will tell you how to taste Siberia. Some of these dishes can be easily prepared on your own, some you’ll want to take home and some will make you want to come back here again.

Saguday and omul on a stick

This famous fish from Baikal can be eaten in any way, as long as it’s freshly caught and prepared immediately. The best omul dish is saguday. Saguday is a dish made of raw omul with salt, pepper and oil. Sometimes lemon juice comes into the mix, too. In both cases, the fish becomes so tender that it gets hard to stop eating.

Saguday (photo by Julianna Kirillova)

Omul on a stick is even more exotic. This is how it is prepared. Freshly caught fish is washed, salted and pierced with a wooden stick along its ridge. The piercing must be gentle, as to not damage the gallbladder. The sticks must be resin-free or the taste will be ruined. The sticks with fish are held over an open fire and constantly turned over. The finished dish is served either with scallions or without anything at all.

Where to get it?

Listvyanka market sells the best smoked omul. Saguday is better at Listvyanka and Irkutsk restaurants. Fishermen at the Olkhon Island prepare the most magnificent omul on a stick.

Poses (buuzy)

What are those «poses»? They are pure happiness, especially for those who enjoy substantial meaty food. Poses are properly called buuzy. They are a bit like pelmeni, khinkali and ravioli. However, the difference in form, size and recipes is obvious.

Poses (buuzy)
Poses (buuzy) (photo by Julianna Kirillova)

The stuffing for the poses is made from lamb meet, and sometimes beef, pork and horsemeat. Some say that the meat must be finely chopped, some use ground meat. Even the color of this fish is a subject for experiments, as some make black poses with cuttlefish ink.

Black poses
Black poses (photo by Julianna Kirillova)

There’s just one thing everybody agrees on. Poses should only be eaten hot and by hand. This is how you should eat them: take a pose in your hands without piercing or tilting it. Take a bite of its side and drink the broth. The broth is hot, so be careful. Then either eat the pose whole or leave a small piece of dough. Add sour cream, soy sauce or mustard, or put the condiments aside to enjoy the natural taste of the most famous Buryat dish.

Where to get it?

Try poses on Olkhon and at Arshan, at simple Irkutsk pose cafes or in an Irkutsk datsan. To try the black buuzy, visit the hipster poses cafe.


This dish is attributed to Buryat and Mongolian cultures. Anyone who’d enjoy a large portion of meat in a bowl of steaming broth would love buhler. Rich soup with chopped mutton, onions and roots will keep you well-fed all day. The locals will assure you that buhler is also a hangover cure.

Buhler (photo by Julia Zakharova)

Buhler is especially good when cooked in a pot over an open fire. Try cooking it when you go camping. For 12 people, you’ll need a 12-liter pot, 3 kg mutton with a bone, 6 onions, a sheaf or parsley, 5 bay leaves, salt and pepper. Wash and chop the meat, put it in cold water and wait for it to boil. Put 3 onions and cook the broth at a slow boil. After 40–50 minutes, throw away the boiled onions, cut the other 3 onions and put them into the pot along with parsley, bay leaves and pepper. Keep the pot at a high heat for a minute, and buhler is ready.

Where to get it?

Try it on Olkhon and at Arshan, at simple Irkutsk pose cafes or restaurants.

Game meat

This may be the meat of deer, elk, wild boar, partridge, quail or pheasant; roasted, smoked, stewed or boiled. The cooks of Irkutsk and Baikal can handle any kind of game.

Splints of red deer
Splints of red deer (photo by Julianna Kirillova)

The hunters love freshly frozen venison liver. Firstly, the raw meat is cut into woodchip-like thin slices. Then the still-frozen pieces are dipped into a saucer with salt and black pepper and chased with onions.

Where to get it?

ask a hunter acquaintance or visit an Irkutsk restaurant that serves game meat — this one, for example.


Gruzinchiki are fish roll pieces, prepared at Baikal in a special way.

First, ravioli-like dough gets kneaded. Minced fish with onions is fried at the same time. Then, the stuffing is wrapped into dough and then fried again. When the roll is ready, it gets chopped into gruzinchiki and poured with hot oil.


Where to get it?

Try them in Bencharov Manor and at Olkhon island.

Fern and wild garlic snacks

Tourists usually avoid them — their loss! Wild garlic is an awesomely healthy thing, and it has 15 times more Vitamin C than lemons. Wild garlic tastes a bit like ordinary garlic, and so it goes well with other things in most salads. Wild garlic in fried, boiled, stewed, salted, pickled, added to pie stuffing and eaten raw, just like scallions.

Salad with wild garlic
Salad with wild garlic

Fern is amazing, too. Fried fern tastes like mushrooms. However, raw fern is hardly edible and can be dangerous. If you don’t like fried food, buy salted fern, put it in cold water for 12-15 hours, and, when the excess salt leaves, boil it for a while. Add a potato or an egg with soy sauce or sour cream, and you’ll get yourself a nice salad.

Where to get it?

Salted fern and wild garlic are sold at the Central Market in Irkutsk. Stewed and fried fern is a popular dish at Chinese restaurants.

Siberian berries

Frozen cranberries and sea buckthorn jam are no oddity at any large grocery store of any city. But fresh berries, juicy and ripe, are different. Fresh cranberries, sea buckthorn, bogberries, blackberries and blueberries can be bought from July to September. During the rest of the year, you’ll only find jams and frozen berries.

Tea with sea buckthorn
Tea with sea buckthorn (photo by Julianna Kirillova)

Siberian berries are a bit bitter, so eat then with sugar or honey. Cranberries and bogberries make a delicious meat sauce. All Siberian berries can be made into delicious lemonades, soft drinks or tea.

Where to get it?

Fresh berries can be found at Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Arshan markets from July to September. Soft drinks and tea are available at Irkutsk coffee shops and restaurants.

Pine nuts

Siberians have loved them ever since the XVII century. Pine nuts soothe the nerves, improve heart function and overall health. Moreover, they are tasty and incredibly addictive. However, keep in mind that pine nuts are high in calories.

If you have a choice between shelled and unshelled nuts, pick the latter. Unshelled nuts are cheaper and more fun to crack. For full authenticity, buy pine cones and enjoy that smell of pine resin.

Pine cones
Pine cones (photo by Julianna Kirillova)

Remember these two ways to make pine nut cracking easy. First, fry them on a dry pan for a bit before consumption. Second, crack them across the shell, not along.

Where to get it?

Pine cones are sold at Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Arshan markets. Shelled nuts are an ingredient for some dishes found in the menu of most restaurants and cafes in Irkutsk.

Tea with Baikal herbs

Fragrant teas with thyme, Golden Root and Sagan Dailami are a popular Siberian beverage. All those herbs have a lot or useful properties.

Thyme is used for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. It also relieves stress and lowers cholesterol levels. Golden Root helps with nervous and physical exhaustion, insomnia, fatigue, edema and hangovers. Sagan Dailami is an extremely strong natural energy drink, so drink it carefully.

Tea with Baikal herbs
Tea with Baikal herbs (photo by Julianna Kirillova)

The taste of Baikal herbs is amazing as well. Their scent provoked an unconscious urge to sit down, drink tea and talk about life and travels.

Where to get it?

The herbs are sold at Irkutsk, Olkhon, Arshan and Listvyanka markets. Properly brewed beverages are served at turbazas and guest houses of Baikal during the evening picnics by the fire.


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