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Each country has its own culinary characteristics and preferences, as is the case in Ukraine. The locals have one ingredient that prevails in almost every traditional dish—salo, pork fat found under the skin in the abdomen and kidneys, is delicious in soups, roasts, sausages and potatoes, or alone as a snack.
Salo is one of the most popular snacks in Ukraine. In traditional restaurants, it is served for free along with rye bread. You may order some food or vodka, and for sure you will get salo cut into thin plates and sprinkled with salt and black pepper. Before putting it on the table, it is kept in the freezer. The idea is that you drink a shot of vodka and quickly eat a bite of frozen salo, and it will gently melt in your mouth.
Smalets is a melted fat. You can put it on sandwiches with fresh rye bread or use it for frying, as it almost has no smell. To cook smalets, cut salo into small cubes, place it in a pan and put on medium heat. Then, cover with a lid and hold until there is no fat in the cracklings. Strain the fat, pour into a storage container and put it in the fridge. When the fat is completely cooled, it will turn white and become smalets.
Cracklings are an integral part of Ukrainian cuisine. Cut the lard into squares and place it on the heated scoop. You do not need to pour oil, as the lard will melt. Fry all the contents on high heat for about 15-20 minutes, and don’t forget to stir. As soon as the cracklings blush, put them on a paper towel. Sprinkle the fried pieces with salt and finely chopped green onions, and eat them with bread.
No, it is not a joke. It is a kind of unusual delicacy that actually exists in Ukrainian cuisine. Take lightly salted salo, bitter dark chocolate, walnuts and ground cinnamon. Pass the pork fat through a fine grater or whisk in a blender. Next, roll into tiny balls and freeze them. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and butter on the steam bath. When the salo is frozen, take it out and lower into chocolate with butter, and decorate with nuts and cinnamon. Then, place it in the freezer. You’ll get kind of unusual popsicles worth trying at least once in your life.
Forshmak, or lard mixed with garlic, is a traditional Ukrainian snack. Such an appetizer is often prepared for a borsch with a slice of rye bread on which a bounteous layer of oil is spread. Cut the fat into medium-sized pieces. Divide the cloves of garlic and clean. Add a little freshly ground black pepper, and then put everything in the meat grinder. When the mass becomes homogeneous, the tasty and savoury snack is ready. Because the garlic quickly loses its aroma, forshmak is worth making just before everyone sits at the table.
Ukrainians love salo for its magical ability to make any food juicy. If you’re wondering how to make baked potatoes succulent and delicious, the answer is to put some pork fat in them. Deeply cut the potatoes, and put a thin slice of salo in each. You can also add some herbs or greens to it. Then, place the potatoes in the oven until cooked. Sprinkle with salt, and serve hot.
Grilled salo with onions, or zazharka, are usually put on top of boiled or mashed potatoes or vareniki (filled dumplings). To cook it, the salo should have a small layer of meat. The process will not take much time. Cut the salo into small pieces, add salt, pepper and onion rings, and put it all in a frying pan. When the dish is lightly golden, it is ready to be served.