Zakuski (закуски) is the plural form of the Russian word for "appetizers" and zakuska (закуска) is the singular form.
Zakuski loosely translates as "little bites" and they are meant to soften the effects of the iced vodka or other strong potables they are served with. A zakuski spread is presented buffet style on a table known as a zakusochnyi stol and is indispensable before a formal meal or on holidays.
Below are the most common categories of zakuski. They may feature a few... simple items, such as herring, cheese, and bread, or more elaborate dishes that number 20 or more.
Some Russians consider soup as part of the zakuski spread, especially now that slow cookers are popular worldwide and can keep the soup hot on the serving line.
01 of 07
Salads and Vegetables Many Ways
Salads are an indispensable part of the zakuski table and may include a simple vinaigrette salad (bинегрет), pickled cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, onions and cabbage, stuffed eggs, cheese, and bread. More elaborate offerings might include these:
- Olivier Salad Recipe (oливье - Oliv'ye)
- Herring Under a Fur Coat Recipe (cельдь под шубой - Sel'd' Pod Shuboy)
- Salmon-Potato Salad Recipe (Лосось'-kартофельный cалат - Losos'-Kartofel'nyy Salat)
- Crab and Corn Salad Recipe (kраб и... kукурузы cалат - Krab i Kukuruzy Salat)
- Pickled Mushrooms Recipe (mаринованными Грибами - Marinovannymi Gribami)
- Vegetable Caviar Recipe (икра - Ikra)
- Baked Mushrooms in Sour Cream Sauce Recipe (Грибы В Сметане - Gribi V Smetani)
02 of 07
03 of 07
Brined and Cured Fish
No Russian appetizer spread would be complete without caviar, herring, lox, fried smelts with onion and lemon, eel, and squid. Many Russian recipes are similar to Polish and Ukrainian recipes.
04 of 07
Dumplings, Pancakes and Savory Pies
Russians celebrate flour in its many forms -- dumplings, savory strudels, pancakes and more.
Continue to 5 of 7 below.
- Meat Dumplings Recipe (пельмени - Pelmeni)
- Pasty/Knish Recipe (пирожки - Pirozhki)
- Pampushki Recipe ( пампушки)
- Cabbage Pie Recipe (кулебяка - Kulebyaka)
- Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe (блины - Blini)
- Chicken-Mushroom Blini Recipe (курица и грибами блины - Kuritsa i Gribami Bliny)
- Lentil-Mushroom Savory Pie Recipe (чечевицы и грибной пирог - Chechevitsy i Gribnoy Pirog)
05 of 07
Soup takes pride of place in Russia and now that slow cookers are common, they can be kept warm and often appear on a zakuski spread. There are thousands of variations on one type of soup, but these are very typical.
06 of 07
Russians don't live by bread, potatoes, and vodka alone but, if push came to shove, they could. Rye, pumpernickel, black, and seeded breads hold sway.
- Russian Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe (закваска ржаной хлеб - Zakvaska rzhanoy khleb)
- Russian Easter Bread Recipe (кулич - Kulich)
- Russian/Georgian Acharuli Khachapuri Cheese Bread Recipe (ахарули хачапури)
07 of 07
Vodka and Other Potables
The whole purpose of zakuski is to lessen the effects of potent drinks like vodka and Champagne. Some prefer to go the non-alcoholic route with tea, coffee, a non-alcoholic bread beer drink known as kvas, fruit compotes, juice, and kefir.