Experimenting with Kvass in Texas

“What’s more absurd than a novel about salmon fishing in Yemen?”

Kvass Madness 2016

It’s time to summarize my 2016 kvass quest. Last Sunday, my kvass-craving guests came to Lyukum Cooking Lab to celebrate kvass! I had 5+ batches of kvass and three traditional Russian cold kvass-based summer kinds of soup to taste. Everybody was asked for honest opinions so we could identify the recipe everyone liked the best. The result was somewhat unpredictable. Or, somewhat predictable, because tastes differ. Four recipes out of five found their respective fans.

Kvass Tasting Party
Kvass Tasting Party

Kvass Tasting Menu and Notes (in actual order of tasting)

1. Kvass made with WholeFoods 100% rye bread [recipe]
The most subtle and simple flavor. At the end of tasting, nobody named it favorite.

2. Kvass made with non-diastatic rye malt liquid extract [recipe]
It was so fizzy; I lost almost half of the bottle after opening it! It made a loud pop sound and burst into an unstoppable fountain of foam! The taste of this kvass was better, but it belonged to the same simple every-day drink category. Some claimed it favorite and liked it in soups.

3. Kvass made of non-diastatic crystal rye malt [recipe]
This one was made the last, the youngest, conditioned only for 3 days. It was almost still. The foam you see on the picture is one more day of conditioning difference. Some claimed it favorite and liked it very much in soups because it didn’t overpower other ingredients.

4. Kvass made of kvass bread [recipe]
This drink and the next one were favored by beer connoisseurs. The flavor complexity of this kvass is close to a good beer.

5. Kvass made of kvass bread and barley malt syrup [recipe notes]
The closest to kvass Monastyrski or the one we call бочковой. Very malty, on a sweet side, intense, my personal favorite. There was also a variation of the same recipe with rye malt liquid extract, which found more followers.

Bonus. We also tasted 6) kvass made of non-diastatic crystal rye malt (dry) that was conditioned with dry peaches instead of raisins and 7) still (not conditioned) kvass that was used for making fermented apples. Both were found tasting very interesting for their fruit notes.

Cold Soup Tasting Menu and Notes

1. Okroshka
boiled potatoes + radishes + cucumbers + parsley + dill + cilantro + scallions + boiled eggs + roast beef + smoked turkey breast + icy cold kvass
All three kinds of soup are traditional cold Summer soups, but this okroshka recipe was the most familiar. We shared our memories how it was served in our families. Some of my guests didn’t eat it with kvass before, only with soured milk + carbonated mineral water or chilled whey. We noted how important it was to choose the right kvass when serving okroshka with it. It shouldn’t be too malty and sweet, and it shouldn’t be too fizzy.

Vegan Okroshka
Vegan Okroshka
2. Vegan Okroshka
salted oyster and beech mushrooms + kvass soaked apples + easy-fizzy cucumbers + fresh dill + scallions + icy cold kvass
I was worried about this recipe the most, because of the unusual combination of unusual ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone enthusiastically approved it. Seven guests admitted they would prefer this version to the common (mentioned above) okroshka!

Making Botvin'ya
Making Botvin’ya
3. Botvin’ya
baked trout + langoustines + gravlax salmon + cucumbers + fresh dill + tarragon + scallions + icy cold kvass
Since crawfish is not easily/always available in ATX, I served botvin’ya with langoustines (previously cooked and frozen) instead. I also had baked trout and gravlax salmon to choose from, but all participants wanted to try them both to see what kind of fish would be preferred. Interestingly enough, everybody like the variety of seafood with different flavors and textures.

Kvass Tasting Party