The punk-rock black squid-ink pancakes of Moscow chef Ivan Shishkin. Recipe here:
Black Blinis with Pike Roe
The pancake symbolizes many things for many people in Russia: a form of protection against evil; a circle of life and death and regeneration; the sun, which all but disappears in the months leading up to Maslenitsa. For Shishkin, more than anything, the blini represents a canvas. “I wanted to add some fish flavor to go with the roe sauce I pour over the top,” he says. “I was lucky when I got that charcoal color plus that nice squid ink flavor.”
Shishkin served this dish last week at Delicatessen and ButerBro, his duo of genre-pushing Moscow restaurants, plus at Dary Prirody, his silver bullet food truck found parked in Hermitage Garden. It may be a clever and visually striking twist on a classic, but as Idov sees it, these blinis have a deeper meaning. “Maslenitsa was also a time to ask deceased ancestors for a plentiful year. So Shishkin’s black blinis are quite appropriate.”
For the sauce
50 g pike roe (substitute with rainbow trout caviar if unavailable)
10 g minced red onion
70 g minced chive
25 g heavy cream
25 g creme fraiche
Place the red onion in a bowl of ice water and leave for 15 minutes. Strain and dry on a paper towel. Mix the onion with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and keep in the fridge for 4 hours.
For the blinis
200 g all-purpose flour
20 g sugar
4 g salt
6 g baking powder
400 g whole milk
2 eggs, yolks separated from whites
4 Tbsp neutral oil, plus more for frying
1 Tbsp squid ink
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the yolks and the milk until uniform in color. Gradually add dry mixture, whisking until all is incorporated and no lumps remain. Add oil and mix.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Use a spatula to gently fold the whites into the batter. Stir in the squid ink, gently mixing until the batter is a uniform black color.
Heat a large buttered cast-iron skillet of nonstick pan over medium heat. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the blini mixture onto the surface, and turn the pan to coax the batter into 4-inch circles. Cook for a minute or two, until a solid surface forms, then flip and repeat.
Serve the warm blinis with a generous amount of the pike roe sauce on top.