5 Traditional Dishes from Odesa

Sardines and potatoes

Many tourists that come to the Black Sea coast are charmed by the inventiveness of local cuisine. Some dishes have the unique flavor that can be found only in Besarabia, tested by generations. The key to the deliciousness of dishes from Odesa is attentiveness, focus on the main ingredient and absolutely no rush. Let’s see what you can try to cook.


Vorschmack pateAlso called forshmak, this delicate dish of salty minced fish is an Odesa classic. Locals often associate Vorschmack with their grandmas who prepared the dish for every holiday. It was brought to Odesa by Ashkenazi Jews and instantly gained popularity among locals. One of the reasons is that the recipe is doable even for rookies.


  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 sour apples (Reinette Simirenko is the most suitable sort)
  • 2 dry pieces of baton bread
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • Mustard
  • Vinegar
  • Oil
  • Salt


  1. Put eggs in the boiling pot for 10 minutes. Cool under cold water and clean the shell.
  2. Peel onions, cut out core from apples.
  3. Roll bread using your hands and fill it with milk. Leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Peel herring and remove bones. If you see caviar, keep it — it might come in handy.
  5. Squeeze lemon juice.
  6. Put herring, eggs, onions and bread in the meat grinder. The mass can be quite doughy but it’s fine. Now you have fish pâté ready.
  7. Add oil and lemon juice to pâté. Add salt, pepper and mix thoroughly.
  8. Put in the fridge Forshmak is good for 2-3 days, so it’s better to eat quickly.

Baked rapana

Baked rapana with chipsRapana is a sea snail commonly found in the Black Sea. While kids love it for the beautiful shells, adults mostly enjoy rapana as a dish.


  • 1 kg of rapana meat
  • 700 g of onions
  • 1/2 liters of sour cream (10-15% fat is the most suitable)
  • 50 g of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Defrost rapana, wash off the plaque and mucus, put in boiling salted water and cook for 7 minutes.
  2. Cut onions into thin half rings and fry on vegetable oil until they are transparent.
  3. Grease the heatproof pan with butter. Put the rapana, sprinkle with finely chopped garlic, add fried onion, pepper, salt. Pour sour cream.
  4. Close the pan with foil and bake in a preheated oven to 220° C for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the foil and leave for another 10 minutes.

Gefilte fish

Gefilte fishAnother dish brought to Odesa by Ashkenazi Jews, gefilte fish is essentially minced meat stuffed inside the fish skin and served with vegetables. There are many variations of the dish, but Odesa locals keep to the traditional way.


  • 1 fish (carp or pike serve the best)
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 50 g of butter
  • 2 tbsp. of semolina
  • 100 g of processed cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 5 black pepper peas
  • 3 fragrant peppers
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • Salt, pepper, spices
  • 1 glass of sour cream
  • 1 bunch of dill
  • 1-2 marinated cucumbers


  1. The most important step is to properly cut the fish. Make sure you have a sharp knife. First, cut off the fish head, carefully take out the insides without cutting the belly, thoroughly wash. Then, using a sharp knife, separate the skin from the meat. Do this by gently and gradually turning out the skin in the manner as if you are turning the stocking inside out.
  2. Separate the fillet, add cheese, put it in the meat grinder. Add chopped onion, raw egg, semolina, salt and pepper.
  3. Thoroughly mix the stuffing and fill in the fish skin. Make sure it’s not too tight, otherwise it will break during cooking.
  4. Spread bones and head from the fish at the bottom of the saucepan. Put carrots cut into circles and half-rings onions. Carefully place the fish on vegetables, add one more layer of vegetables and a slice of butter.
  5. Fill with boiling water, so that it covers the fish to half. Slightly salt the water, put pepper peas, sweet pepper and bay leaves into it.
  6. Cover the stewpan with a lid and place it in a preheated oven for 180 minutes for 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the fish.
  7. Serve in a dish plate decorated with vegetables.

Eggplant Caviar

eggplant caviar and tomatoesA favorite summer dish in Odesa, eggplant caviar is quite easy to prepare. All it takes is one hour and several secret tips. It can be served ready or preserve for winter.


  • 3 kg of eggplants
  • 300 g of red peppers
  • 300 g of onions
  • 300 g of tomatoes
  • 12-14 pieces of garlic
  • 100 ml of vegetable oil
  • Sugar
  • Coriander, parsley or basil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Wash eggplants, cut along into 2 parts. Put in salted water for 10 minutes to get rid of the bitterness. Put eggplants on a baking sheet and grease the slices with vegetable oil.
  2. Bake in a heated oven to 230-250° C for about 25 minutes.
  3. Slightly cool and remove peel. Flesh eggplant with a knife.
  4. Peel onions and chop finely.
  5. Wash peppers, remove seeds and cut into small cubes.
  6. Peel and grate tomatoes on a large grater or put in a blender.
  7. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan. Put onions and fry for 2 minutes. Add peppers and fry for about 5-7 minutes stirring regularly.
  8. Add tomato mass to onions and peppers, cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add flesh of eggplant and cook for 7-8 more minutes.
  9. Peel garlic and pass through a garlic press. Wash greens, dry and chop finely. Add garlic, herbs, salt, a little sugar, and peppers to the eggplant. Mix everything and stew for about 5-7 minutes.

Fried gobies à la Odesa

gobies and lemonGobies are the essential part of Besarabia cuisine. The process of preparation starts long before the actual cooking — many locals prefer to catch the fish themselves instead of buying.


  • 12 - 16 gobies
  • 4 onions
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. spoons of flour
  • 3 tbsp. spoons of tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sugar
  • Greens


  1. Clean gobies, rinse, salt. Leave for half an hour.
  2. Roll gobies in flour and fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.
  3. Place on a dish, decorate with greens and lemon cut in circles.

You can also add tomato sauce:

  1. Put tomato paste in a frying pan with vegetable oil and finely chopped onion. Simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Put grilled gobies in a saucepan, pour tomato paste, and add a little broth.
  3. Season with salt, sugar, pepper, put 2 bay leaves. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.
  4. Cool gobies, place on a dish, pour the sauce, sprinkle with finely chopped greens.

Recipe sources: odessa-kitchen.livejournal.com, gotovim-doma.ru, mir24.tv, tetia-motia.com.
Photo sources: shutterstock.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.


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