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Popular since the nineteenth century, vobla began to be commercially prepared and packaged only in the 1990s. Even today, many households prefer to make their own since all that one needs is any locally caught river or lake fish, salt to make a brine and twine from which to hang the fish. After soaking the unfilleted fish in brine for several days, one passes a piece of twine through the eyes and then hangs the fish outside to dry. Once dried it can store virtually indefinitely. The most traditional way to serve vobla is on a piece of newspaper spread on a table, onto which the fish’s skin and scales are peeled and then the meat is torn off by hand into small pieces. Even though vobla and other types of dried fish nowadays come prepackaged, and often gutted and skinned, the basic eating ritual stays the same. Tasting fishy and briny, nothing can wash down its distinct flavor and saltiness like a cold Russian lager.
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