What is Zalivnoe and How to Make It (With Pictures)

Everyone has their poison. Some like to paint, some like to sing, some can’t get enough of the adrenaline rush from skydiving or running away from a raging bull.

As for me, discovering, exploring lesser-known cuisines is my kind of high. So when my childhood friend, who currently studies medicine in Moscow, told me about having this meat Jell-O thing called zalivnoe at a party, I was intrigued.

I looked it up and apparently, zalivnoe is a savory jelly made of meat or fish stock – a delicacy reserved for special occasions like Christmas or New Year celebration dinner in Russia.

russian dish zalivnoe

Now I know what you are thinking. Meat and jelly – what on God’s green Earth? As bizarre as it may sound to us non-Russians, the idea of this odd pairing piqued my curiosity. I decided to dig further.

What Exactly is Zalivnoe?

Zalivnoe is essentially a form of meat-based aspic jelly or gelatinous stock. Different versions of aspic jelly are enjoyed as a cold appetizer across many eastern European countries. In Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian cuisines, the meat-based stock-jelly is known as kholodets/holodetz or studen.

Kholodets are usually made of meat scraps and the stock looks sort of cloudy and gray. Zalivnoye or Zalivnoe is a more refined, fine-dining worthy version of the humble kholodets. It can be made of meat, fish as well as vegetables.

A modern take on a classic dish, zalivnoe has its roots in French haute cuisine. To make zalivnoe, you’ll have to take the simple stock a step further by clarifying the stock with an egg raft.

A classic zalivnoe also calls for a meticulously carved piece of boiled egg or veggies inside the jelly. You can find a similar dish in France called galantine.

Apart from a clarified stock and better aesthetics, what separates zalivnoe from traditional kholodets is the use of gelatine. Zalivnoe relies on additional gelatine to help the stock set, whereas, for kholodets, the meat is boiled long enough which helps to break down the collagen and produce gelatine.

Like revenge, zalivnoe is a dish best served cold, usually with mustard or a chrain, a sauce made with grated horseradish.

The History of Kholodets or Zalivnoe

In Russian, Kholod means cold. The dish is mainly served during winter holidays, especially New Year’s Eve, hence the name. Although these days, you will find many restaurants in Eastern Europe serving zalivnoe all year round.

Kholodets have existed in Russia since the 19th century. Due to long-lasting winter and extreme poverty, a lot of Russian dishes were based around leftovers, kholodets being one of them. The original recipe called for meat parts that are usually thrown away.

As time passed, the rustic Russian cuisine inclined toward French haute cuisine. French cooking trends inspired Russians to clarify the stock and use added gelatine to create a dish that’s both rich in flavor and beautiful to look at.

Bits of carved meat and boiled egg were also added to zalivnoe to make it look more appetizing.

Every region in Russia has its own recipe of zalivnoe, so don’t get all worked up if you see 5 Russians making the dish in 5 different ways.

Basics of Zalivnoe: 5 Things to Remember While Cooking Zalivnoe

  • Authentic kholodets stock relies on the collagen in the meat for jelly-like consistency whereas zalivnoe stock requires added gelatine to set properly.
  • Choose animal parts with the highest amount of connective tissues such as beef tongue, shoulder shank, chicken feet, pig trotters. Salmon, trout, or catfish. When cooked in water at temp above 80°C (176°F), the collagen in the connective tissues breaks down and turns into collagen which firms up the stock.
  • Clean the meat thoroughly with cold water.
  • Make sure the water covers the meat fully and let it gently simmer for 5-6 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.
  • Add the salt about 30 minutes before finishing off the cooking.

Zalivnoe with Beef Recipe

The classic zalivnoe or kholodets is always made with beef tongue, shanks, chuck (shoulder), and short ribs. The Voronezh style zalivnoe recipe calls for flank steak.

russian classic traditional dish

Yield: Makes about 15-20 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 16 g garlic
  • 40 g parsley
  • 40 g celery
  • 3 allspice corns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 liters water with 100 grams unflavored sheet gelatine
  • Salt, pepper to taste

How to Prepare:

Step 1: Clean the meat, slice it into thin pieces.

Step 2: Add the meat, vegetables, spices (except bay leaves) into a large pot. Add water until all the ingredients are fully covered. Bring it to a boil.

Step 3: Once the broth comes to a boil, turn down the heat and let it gently simmer for around 3 hours.

Step 4: After 3 hours, add the bay leaves and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. At this point, season the broth with salt and pepper.

Step 5: While the broth is simmering, take out one cup of the broth, strain it, allow it to cool for a few minutes, pour the gelatine into it and let it soak for a few minutes.

Step 6: Once the meat is fully cooked, take it out along with all the other solids. Arrange the meat slices on a deep dish. You can up the aesthetics with slices with boiled egg, carrots, or lemon slices at this point (optional).

Step 7: Strain the rest of the broth, add the gelatine mixture into it and stir until fully dissolved.

Step 8: Pour the gelatin-mixed broth over the meat. Allow the dish to come to room temperature.

Step 9: Put the dish in the fridge. It can take anywhere between 40 minutes to a couple of hours for the gelatine broth to solidify.

Step 10: Once it firms up, cut it into pieces and serve with horseradish sauce or mustard.

Zalivnoe with Chicken Recipe

If you avoid red meat or chicken is the only meat you have on hand right now, go ahead and make this dish with chicken. Although the resulting dish won’t be as rich and complex in flavors as beef zalivnoe, it will taste pretty awesome.

chicken zalivnoe

Yield: Makes about 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 chicken feet and 6 chicken necks (about 700 grams of meat)
  • 2 pork knuckles or ham hocks (optional)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 20 g parsley
  • 20 g celery
  • 3 allspice corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 liters of water
  • 50 g sheet gelatine
  • Salt and pepper

How to Prepare:

  • Wash the meat and add in a pan along with veggies and spices (except the bay leaves).
  • Place it on low heat and gently simmer for 5-6 hours.
  • Take one cup of broth, strain, let it cool, and soak the gelatine in it.
  • 30 min before turning off the heat, add the bay leaves.
  • Once the meat is tender and falling off the bone, take the chicken out, strain the broth, add the gelatine-infused broth into it and give it a good mix.
  • Transfer the chicken to a deep dish, cover it with the gelatine-infused broth, let it room temperature.
  • Finally, put it in the fridge and allow the gelatine to set.
  • Portion it out and serve.

Zalivnoe with Fish Recipe

In terms of flavor, fish zalivnoe is much more delicate compared to its meaty counterparts.

zalivnoe preparation

Yields: Makes about 12-14 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs salmon including head and tail (ideal for this dish due to its high collagen content)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 70 g sheet gelatine
  • 20 g parsley
  • 20 g celery
  • 3 allspice corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 liters of water

How to Prepare:

  • Cut the fish into small pieces and set it aside.
  • Add all the veggies, spices, fish head, and tail in the pan, cover with water.
  • Boil for 25-30 minutes, then add the fish slices and let it simmer gently on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Season the broth.
  • Take one cup of broth, strain, add the gelatine.
  • Once the fish is fully cooked, carefully take the fish slices out, transfer them to a pan.
  • Strain the broth, pour the gelatine-infused broth into it, and give it a good mix.
  • Pour the broth onto the fish slices.
  • When it comes to room temperature, put it in the fridge for a few hours, allowing the stock to turn into jelly.
  • Portion it out and serve.

In Conclusion

The idea of turning meat or fish stock into a jelly might not sound very appealing at first. But if you are keen on expanding your palate and exploring different cuisines, you should definitely give this old amazing pairing of meat and jelly a try.

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