I friend of ours really surprised us by bringing over a kilo of fresh Russian Keta caviar as a present. You just needed to see Sergey’s face every time he opened the fridge – his face was glowing like a full moon!
So what do you do with so much caviar? The first thought that crosses my mind (not proud of it) is to eat it with a soup spoon until you get sick of it. This of course is sick in itself and did not happen of course, but I must admit that some of us were tempted – you don’t often get chances like this.
Second thought is to share the news and the moment (read caviar) with friends, which we proudly did. Still, how do you eat those gorgeous shiny grains of caviar, apart from the very traditional way, which is to spread it on buttered bread toast?
It might be a bit obvious but it took us some time to figure out that Russian caviar needs to be appreciated the way Russian do. So we started searching for the original Russian sourdough blini with caviar recipes. We even found a tale that says that in old times, after a long winter, when the first signs of thawing were felt, the northern tribes prepared a feast in honor of the Blazing Sun. Those round and golden (like sun) pancakes, made with mixed flours, were cooked and offered to Sun God so he won’t forget to warm The Mother Earth and to make the next harvest sprout (or so goes the story).
As we found out there are endless variations of the blini recipe out there. I choose the sourdough with a mix of buckwheat and plain white flours and beaten egg whites. It was my curiosity for this kind of batter that pushed me, and I surely will make them regularly from now on. It was easier that I’ve expected and incredibly rewarding – you got a pile of little tasty sourdough soft clouds, perfect to pair with dill sour cream and caviar. You can also serve these blini with smoked salmon or other smoked fish or even with some strawberry jam.
Makes about 24-30 blinis, depending on the size
Prep time: 1 to 2 hours
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1¼ cups milk
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
Small bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
Plenty of red caviar (or at least 2 ounce jar for 4 people)
Warm the milk to lukewarm and add the yeast to it. Stir until well dissolved. Sift the two flours along with salt in a bowl and pour the milk into the flour mixture. Add the egg yolks and stir to make a smooth batter.
Cover with a damp cloth or cling film and let it sit in a warm place to rise for about 30-50 minutes (depending on the weather). It wont double up, but will rise more than what you started out with and will have light and bubbly appearance.
In a clean dry bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold it gently into the risen batter until well incorporated. Add the vegetable oil and stir.
Heat a non stick pan or cast iron pan to moderate heat. Moisten with little oil, if you prefer although it is not necessary, if the pan you use in non sticking. Drop spoonfuls of the batter and turn the other side when golden – you need less than a minute for every pancake.
I prefer mine about the size of 2-3 inches/ 5-7 cm in diameter – for this size I needed a little bit more batter than a full tablespoon. In order to make them round I found easier shaking lightly the pan right after the batter is poured in, instead of flatten it up with the back of the spoon.
Serve warm or cold, topped with a dollop of dill sour cream and a dollop of caviar.
Recipe adapted from Chef in you.