Sub Corner 25: Even More Submarine Cuisine (Comfort Food and Russian edition)

I’m back! For real this time!

Tau-tau!

Yes, Tasha?

Why is there no page on Soviet Submarine Cuisine?

H-huh? Well, actually. We don’t have a page on any country’s submarine cuisine in particular other than America’s. You’re thinking about the one where we did a taste test on the various rations of the different navies right?

Yes. You should tell the world about Soviet submarine cuisine. 

S-shouldn’t that be Katya’s job –

Look. I bring to you recipe book. Is national artifact of the Soviet peoples. Maybe you could think about doing a few of these –

Ooh. I get it. You’ve missed Langley & Pantera’s cooking, right?

No. I am just tired of ramen noodle.

Tasha, you don’t have to eat those you know.

Soviet shipgirl do not waste food.

…Cripes, Tasha, you know Chester got a crate of the stuff because of the collectibles. Also that stuff’s pumped so full of food coloring and oils and artificial ingredients that I’m not sure if it counts as food still.

Okay, I feel bad now. HEY TAMBOR! CAN YOU GET HER SOMETHING NICE TO EAT?


Poor thing. I guess someone should have said something, but seeing that she and Maury’s never actually around I’m not surprised at all.

Anyways! Welcome to another one of my sub corners. As always, I really enjoy telling you about stuff that goes on in submarines. While I still think American submarines are the most interesting, I do my part in branching out and understanding the submarines of other navies, too.

Inevitably, one of the things that interest me is the people and how they lived their daily lives as a submariner. Now, for America, we actually have a wealth of resources. There are many good submarine memoirs out there for us to extract information from. There are also professional organizations such as the Submarine Research Center or any number of naval enthusiast websites that provides a lot of first-hand accounts for such information.

Since I don’t read Russian (only K9 does – well, he’s learning!) it naturally means it’s harder to figure out what the Russians ate.

In general, though, I think it’s important to stress that for the submariners specifically, food was a source of significant comfort. We’ve gone over this one before, but the submarine fights under an understandably hostile environment. Anything you can do to boost morale would be great, and food is one of them.

Naturally, if the stores of the submarine is capable, you’d want to bring as many things that’s close to “home” than you’d think. Here’s another recipe for instance, coming from our own.

Tautog’s Modified Chicken Pot Pie (Ovenless edition)

NOTE: Since a lot of our Chinese readers don’t have easy access to an oven, I’ve written this one up without one. For the rest of us living in the good old USA, it’s really pretty much get a dough shell, stick chicken and tasty bits to it, and then bake it until tender.

You’ll need:

1 chicken. Get a big one. We’re making this for four people or one U.S. marine.
A pretty good mix of veggies. I like to use a third of a cup of celery, carrots, and onions. Throw in a couple of medium-sized potatoes too for good measure.
One bag of frozen peas. This isn’t optional! Wouldn’t be chicken pot pie without it.

1/3rd of a cup of flour, one tablespoon of cornstarch, salt and pepper for taste. You can add things like bay leaves and whatnots if you want, but this recipe is the original one. I usually add garlic.

For the “pot pie” itself we’re gonna make biscuits! You’ll need:

flour, two cups.
two teaspoons (the small one!) of baking soda
one teaspoons of baking powder.
half a teaspoon of salt
a cup of milk (buttermilk is preferred)
a quarter cup of oil of your choice.

First things first. Easy stuff. Toss that chicken into a pot and boil it until it’s cooked. A good rule of thumb if you’re using a whole chicken is that the meat’s cooked enough to fall off the bones. Save the chicken stock – we’re gonna use it later.

You’re going to take the meat and cut it up into small pieces. Whatever the size you want, make sure it’s the same size as your vegetables (potatoes included).

Take the chicken stock you’ve got on the oven. Skim the fat off (I personally keep it but it’s up to you!) and toss your vegetables and chicken in. You want to bring this to a boil first, and afterwards just reduce heat and keep it simmering. Give it about 20 minutes or half an hour, and stir often!

While this is happening, you want to take all the stuff that the biscuit is made out of. Mix it up well. It should be pretty thick.

Now, you’re going to take the flour, the cornstarch, and the salt and pepper and mix them up in a small amount of water. Slowly stir this into your pot pie meat mix on the stovetop. Give it a good three minutes and you’ll see this mixture start to thicken.

What you’ll do then is take the dough of the cookie we’ve made, and just drop a few spoonfuls over the filling. Keep it simmering for 10 minutes, then get a lid and cover it up until the biscuits are cooked.

Sure, it doesn’t look like a pot pie, but I can guarantee you it tastes just like one!

Now, as for Tasha’s question?

The information I’ve got today actually came from the historical Katya’s own memoirs. Based on the recollection of Lt. Konstantin Sergev, the Soviets did their best to supply their submarines with a good, hearty supply of food.

Typically, similar to many European navies, the Soviets had a lot of stews and soups to go with their meals. In general the submariner can be expected to find many of the things he would find at home. These illustrations from the “Book of Tasty and Healthy Foods,” a Soviet-era recipe book dating from the earliest days of the USSR give a good example of the sort of things people might be expected to find.

Here’s what they ate as an evening meal, based on an interaction with an American admiral. The book specifically noted that these were traditional Russian cuisine.

….Vodka, caviar, mushrooms, herring and onions, sauerkraut and rye (black) bread. And when boiled potatoes and fried rockfish were served up, the guests went into pure raptures and waited impatiently for the opportunity to have a mouthful after every toast.

I don’t need to explain what vodka is, right?

Mushrooms here refer to likely a type of European mushroom (cepes). They’re delicious in stews, very common as side dishes, and sometimes even fried up and used to garish meat.

Herrings and onions is a pretty common dish. Salted fish of all types were very common to the Soviet submariner’s diet, and there were many tasty ways of preparing it. Generally, salted fishes are accompanied with potatoes or bread. Here’s an example of a dish that I dug out of the book Tasha handed me.

Chopped herring

1 herring
2 tablespoons of butter
1 apple

Soak the herring if it’s too salty. Clean the herring filet, cut it into small pieces. Mix it up with the butter and smash it through a sieve. Afterwards, take slices of apple and serve the mashed up herring alongside sliced bread.

The “sauerkraut” is referring to any number of Russian-styled pickled vegetables, but since the book we had is an English translation, “sauerkraut” is the closest approximation.

The black bread is something I’ve had before and that should be for a section separately. Let’s look at the dinner’s main dish and how it might be made.

Tautog’s Reconstructed Fried Rockfish and Potatoes

A big rockfish (snapper, striped bass, Pacific rockfish etc). Basically, it’s a seafood staple and commonly found in pretty much anywhere that borders the Pacific ocean. Let’s say 1.5 pounds or so.

2 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup of milk
2 tablespoon flour
salt and pepper for taste

fresh cucumbers and tomatoes for garish

Okay, this one’s not too hard. Basically, you want to wash your fish. Soak it in the quarter-cup of milk, add salt and better, then proceed to flour it up.

You can fry this in any oil you want, just make sure there’s enough of it to cover the fish half-way.

Heat up your skillet until it’s really hot, then add in your cooking fat. Then you add your fish. It’s a simple thing from this point here. Fry one side, then fry the other side.

“What if the fish isn’t ready and it’s already turning golden?”

Take your skillet off the heat. Cover it up, and put it on very low heat for a good 5 to 7 minutes. Fish cooks easily, after all!

After your fish is done, Tasha recommends that you take the butter, melt it, and drizzle it all over the fish. You can then add the cucumbers and tomato as decorations.

Yeah, I’m hungry now. I’m gonna go find something to eat too. See ya next time!

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