Wednesday 21 January 2015

Ukha on a budget

Ukha is a Russian fish soup. It is made of various kinds of fish, and ranges from a budget version made from fish heads or tinned fish to luxurious soups cooked with a variety of rare fish and even caviar.
My Dad loved fishing. Whenever we visited my grandparents in the South of Russia, he would spend hours fishing in peace and quiet in the Don river. My grandma had a summer kitchen with a big clay stove under the roof on poles. There was a deep wooden well nearby and a long kitchen garden and garden which bordered on the woods.
All the fresh fish was cooked in a big pot in the summer kitchen, with a few herbs from the garden and some root vegetables. It was a simple fare but absolutely delicious. All grandma's cats would sit and wait patiently for the fish scraps and entrails.
But I'm digressing.
I'm often pestering the fish counter at the local Waitrose if they have any salmon heads on offer, and most of the time they don't, but the other day I have spotted a big fat head and bought it for a princely sum of 49p. My first thought was to cook some clear fish stock, but then I decided to make a very simple fish soup, or ukha.

Russian recipe

Ukha (serves 4)
1 big salmon head (about 500g)
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2tbsp olive oil
1 tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 medium potato
2tbsp rice, basmati type
2 gherkins, chopped (optional)

Wash the fish head well under the running cold water, put in a big pan and pour water over it, it should be all covered. Add the bay leaf. Bring to boil, then cook, simmering on low.
Fry the shallot with the carrot in the olive oil for 5 minutes, then add to the fish stock. You might skip the frying bit, but it adds a depth of flavour. Add the tomato. Simmer for 15 minites.
Check if the fish head is cooked, take it out of the pan. Once cooler, flake the fleshy bits and put back in the pan. Throw all the bones and scales. Actually from one salmon head there was quite a bit of flesh.
Add the chopped potato and rice and cook for another 12-15 minutes, until the potato is cooked. In winter I like to add some pickles to the soup, so I added some chopped gherkins.
Serve hot, with a sprinkling of chopped green onions or dill.
I also like to add a teaspoon of Greek style yogurt or soured cream.

This is a truly budget recipe, economical yet very tasty.

Adding my post to Credit Crunch Munch linky run by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All.

Also linking up with No Waste Food Challenge at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary


  1. oh see i have a fear of fish head sbut im sure this would work with fish in general , Ii would love to eat more fish this year as one of my healthy goals x

    1. Thank you Lisa! I appreciate some people might find it totally off-putting, and it probably is, but it certainly is a cheap way of making a fish soup. You can always cook it with fish fillets, though it would take less time for the fish to be cooked then.

  2. What a super recipe - a perfect no waste food challenge entry! Thank you for sharing :)