What Foods Go With Vodka

What Foods Go With Vodka?

You may be used to asking which foods go with a particular wine, but have you thought to ask which foods go with a particular vodka? At the Russian appetizer buffet called a zakuska, a shot of ice-cold vodka is followed by a taste of an appetizer from the smorgasbord. The idea is to notice and enjoy how the two affect each other, and also to ameliorate the effects of the vodka so you can drink more of it. Repeat for as long as you can. For extra fun, make a toast with each shot.

Key Components of Foods That Go With Vodka

The key components of foods that work well with vodka are acid and fat. Salt is also popular. These characteristics mellow the vodka effects while providing a flavorful counterpoint. Spread some pork lard on a slice of rye bread, add dill pickles, and you’ve covered the basics. Remember to take a shot of vodka or a sip of your cosmopolitan between bites.

Preserved foods are frequently paired with vodka. This is because traditionally these are the foods that survived the long Russian winters, and also because their pickled, salted, and smoked aspects complement the vodka experience.

Fish

Caviar — usually sturgeon roe — is the classic accompaniment to vodka. Serve it by itself, on toast triangles, or on blini with butter.

When it comes to fish and vodka, think smoked, pickled, and salted. Smoked sprats, salmon (lox), black cod, and halibut are good choices. Pickled herring is popular and is often served in a tomato and onion sauce, in oil with onions, or with peas and mayonnaise. Salted fish such as mackerel are also vodka-friendly. 

Breads, Dumplings, and Pancakes

The breads that hold up to being eaten with vodka are the black and brown ones, such as dark rye and pumpernickel, served slathered with butter. For dumplings, think farmer-cheese-stuffed knishes and Siberian vareniki, filled with meat, potatoes, and/or cheese and topped with buttery sautéed onions.

Vodka-friendly pancakes include blini, blintzes, and other savory flapjacks, even potato latkes. Serve with melted butter, sour cream, and chives. More toppings to consider are marinated, pickled, or salted mushrooms and caviar with chopped green onions. And don’t forget the hand pies. A popular choice is piroshki filled with cabbage, raisins, and pickled mustard seeds.

Vegetables and Salads

It’s no big surprise that pickling is the key to matching vodka and vegetables. Serve pickled cabbage (perhaps with cranberries and blueberries), pickled green tomatoes, and pickled mushrooms. Pickled fruits like plums and apples also work well. Chill the veggies to match the vodka. 

Vodka-worthy salads also involve pickled components. The popular Olivier salad combines a varying selection of ingredients, most of them boiled, such as potatoes, carrots, peas, onion, apples, sausage, eggs, and pickled cucumbers, in a mayonnaise sauce. The salad called Herring Under a Fur Coat is made by grating boiled beets, carrots, and potatoes over chopped pickled herring and topping with mayonnaise. 

Meats

Since fat and cured meats go best with vodka, a zakuska buffet will feature meats such as cold cuts, ham, bacon, and lard. Meat jelly served with horseradish is popular. The dish called Binoculars With Jellyfish is jellied pig’s feet served between two shot glasses of vodka. 

Soups

Pickle soup, which can be made from a variety of combinations of pickled vegetables, is a popular vodka accompaniment. A serving of borscht, made from beets, is commonly enhanced by pouring vodka from your shot glass into it.

Eggs and Cheese

Eggs go with vodka whether served cold or hot, deviled, stuffed, or scrambled, and make good open-faced or appetizer-sized sandwiches. Hard cheeses, such as Havarti dill, go well with vodka, as do goat, ricotta, and bleu cheese.

Pairing vodka with the right foods will enhance both drinking and eating. Just remember to focus on acid, fat, and salt, and you won’t go wrong.

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