Every Russian city has some dishes which characterize it. There are pirozhki or borsch, Pavlova cake or rassolnik. But, when you come to Siberia, you should look for a cafe with a funny name Poznaya. They specialize only in buuzas or pozas as they are called by the locals. Buuza is a Buryat kind of dumplings. They are prepared and consumed in an unusual way (the recipe will follow). When travelling to Siberia, it's a must for everyone to try buuza, nutritious Buryat food that fills you up like no other.
Buuza was not originally from Siberia. It derives (if one can say so about a dish) from other peoples' cuisines, especially those of China. It is believed that buuza is one of the variants of the xiaolongbao (in Chinese it's bāozi, you may notice how the name bāozi was transformed and became buuza). The xiaolongbao has lots of stuffing variations while Buryat buuza has only the meat one. The dough is slightly different in bāozi too - it's based on yeast while buuza's dough can be made without one. Buuza is very popular in Mongolia too, where it's a holiday dish. It is similar to khinkali of the Caucasian cuisine.
All of the mentioned dishes are prepared with steam, with a special steam cooker. The stuffing of a traditional buuza is chopped meat and onion.
Your usual buuza looks like a small tea-cup with a hole on top of it. The diameter of a buuza is 5-8 cm. Originally, to make a buuza, the cook has to make 33 pinches on the dough around the top. This form of a buuza allows for the broth to be kept inside. The meat and onion give their taste to the broth while being steamed. You have to eat buuza with your hands. Cutting it with knife results in the broth filling, the most delicious part of the buuza, spreading out. You have to take a bite of the bottom part of the dough and suck the broth through the hole. In Buryatia, buuza is very popular, and the locals usually have various culinary contests dedicated to this dish. Traditionally, families make them at home, passing the recipes from generation to generation. Sometimes, there are even buuza-eating contests. There was one in 2014 when the contestants consumed more than 20.000 buuzas.
When you first set foot in the Eastern Siberia region, which will probably be through Irkutsk or Ulan Ude, you will see a huge number of cafes called “Poznaya”. The most delicious buuzas can be consumed in Poznaya38. Go straight there and try the buuza, nutritious Buryat food that fills you up like no other!
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