A delicious Oucha recipe shared with us by Tilla Crowne.
Oucha is a traditional Russian fish soup with potatoes – there is no definitive recipe for it, as with most traditional dishes. There are regional variations, and its true power is that of nostalgia and the memories of things past- nothing is ever quite like the dishes your mother made, no matter how identically you try to recreate them.
The great thing about this soup is, being a consommé, it is not overpoweringly ‘fishy’. It has an intense, clear flavour that speaks of the essence of fish and clear sea air. It is most similar to traditional Jewish Chicken Soup. For anyone frightened of trying a fish soup, or wishing to provide those who do not eat meat at their table with a soup that won’t mark them out from the crowd, this simple dish is ideal.
A Note: traditionally fish heads and bones are used, but you can use fillets or other cuts of fish, especially if you are worried by the thought of having a pot that stares back at you! The advantage of using heads and bones is that they add a depth of flavour and give the soup body, lending it a lightly jellied quality when chilled. If not using bones or heads, increase the quantity of fish.
- Fish heads of salmon or white fish - 2-3 large
- Bones/tails & fins (optional – should be tied in a soup bag for easy retrieval at the end) - should be tied in a soup bag for easy retrieval at the end
- Salmon - 500g, cut into rough cubes
- White Fish (if you can get it, use pike) - 500g, cut into rough cubes
- Carrots - 2 large carrots, peeled
- Celery - 2 sticks of celery, halved
- Onion - 2 small or 1 large, peeled & trimmed
- Flat leaved parsley - Small bunch
- Fresh dill - Small bunch
- Bay leaves - Two
- 4-5 large potatoes - Peeled, chopped into rough 1” cubes
- Salt and pepper - To taste
Fill a large stock pot to two thirds full with cold water. Add in the fish heads, and bones, and set the stove to full heat – this will bring the water up to the boil slowly. As the water gets gradually hotter, the water will cloud slightly and when quite hot scum will start forming on the surface of the liquid. Skim this scum off, and continue skimming every couple of minutes or so until the water eventually starts to vigorously boil.
When the water starts boiling, add in the carrots, onions, bay leaves, celery, potatoes and parsley, salt and pepper keeping the dill back. Cover the pot and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the salmon and white fish, and simmer for a further five minutes.
Take the pot off the stove, and remove the onions, parsley stems, fish heads and bones, and take the carrots and celery sticks, slice them and put them back into the soup. Finely chop the dill, and add to the pot.
This soup can be served hot or cold.