Initially in Russia all soups were called ukha – pea ukha, chicken ukha. Only in the 18th century this dish became the way we know it now – nourishing fish soup.
Traditional Russian ukha is a hearty, rich fish broth with chopped vegetables, fish, herbs and a lot of spices. Usually the fattier the fish, the more spices are added to ukha such as parsley (leaves and roots), fennel, bay leaf, black pepper. However, it is better to garnish the plates with fresh herbs right before serving.
There are several kinds of ukha:
- White ukha is cooked from fish with white meat: pike, whitefish, perch or bass.
- Black ukha is made from sazan, crucian or carp.
- Red ukha is cooked from salmon, trout and sturgeon.
- Tzar ukha is prepared with chicken broth.
Ukha can be served hot and cold. Nowadays there are many variations of classical recipe of this soup. Ukha can be enriched with rice or millet, a slice of lemon, tomatoes or even an egg white.
Fishermen follow their own rituals when cooking ukha. For instance, they use only water from the river, and believe it is necessary to extinguish a firebrand in the pot – this should give special aroma to the dish. In the very end fishermen add a shot of vodka to ukha, which in fact does not affect the taste of the soup in any way.