"Ah, why be afraid? It’s only waist deep out there. And I took vacation especially so I could go fishing!" – angler Nikolai declares as he boldly steps on to the thin ice. There is no time to talk; you have to take up your position.
Together with the first ice on the sea, warmly dressed men with large boxes on their backs appear on city streets, as well as on commuter trains and buses. Several fishermen, those who know how to get the best spots first, seem already nailed down to the ice floes along the shores of Vladivostok. Neither thaw, nor frost, nor strong winds frighten such lovers of ice fishing. The fish are biting! And thousands of men and women go after them. It happens every year no matter what.
Smelt, flounder, navaga (a relatively small species in the cod family) are signs of Far Eastern winter – like mandarin oranges during the Christmas-New Year holidays. Our mothers and grandmothers used to prepare these fish, so we cannot imagine Far Eastern cuisine without them.
Organizers did not conceive of the Winter Fish Festival in Vladivostok to impress people with originality; instead, they wanted to show something ordinary in a new light – more precisely, unique food whose recipes are from the rich cookbooks of our forebears. It is no accident that more cities recently are featuring places where one can order familiar dishes tastily prepared from the heart. Also, chefs are more often resorting to local produce and home-cooking traditions of their region. We honestly love this, and Far Eastern cuisine is certainly one of those treasures that deserve to be a source of pride.
You have to agree that navaga is a pretentious name for a small fish, and hardly anyone would call dishes from it delicacies. But that’s a shame – because the nutritious meat of navaga has excellent flavorful characteristics. There are few bones, and it contains an incredible amount of vitamins and important elements. If you could collect all the benefits of navaga in one pill, such a pill would be both a rejuvenating agent and an anti-inflammatory, as well a medicine for the heart, joints, vision, and thyroid; it would also assist in dealing with depression and strengthen immunity.
Alas – there is no such pill in the world, but navaga has all that in abundance! Another of navaga’s virtues is that it is accessible to everyone.
Navaga, that is the February part of the festival, will last 10 days: February 15th to the 25th. Participants of the Winter Fish Festival, restaurants of Vladivostok and Nakhodka, will offer guests grilled navaga in both classical and signature presentations. In addition to the festival menu, dishes from any winter fish (navaga, smelt, flounder, and others) might be included in a restaurant’s fare.
Contest in the net: you could have won one of the exclusive t-shirts by Discover Vladivostok and a local fashion brand "Morye", if you had uploaded a photo from the festival 2018 to your Instagram with the hashtag #icefishfest.
If you missed the contest but crave a fest tee, here is the secret: a limited edition of t-shirts is on sale in IKRA concept store (5 Svetlanskaya St.). A t-shirt costs 1790 rubles (~31 US dollars).
During the festival, the price per 100 grams of fresh navaga at participating restaurants will be the same – 69 rubles. Even more reason to free yourself from the hassle of the kitchen and the scent of fried fish in your apartment. Order a table, gather some pleasant companions together, and with a general good mood partake in the pleasure of fresh navaga – reflecting during the meal about the beautiful things that abound in our region and the ability we have to appreciate all that surrounds us.
Pacific Russia cuisine restaurant Port Cafe
Farm restaurant Ogonёk
Novik Country Club restaurant
MOLOKO & MЁD restaurant
Saint Fish restaurant (Nakhodka city)
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