Vobla - Caspian Roach
[Rutilus caspicus - similar - Common Roach Rutilus rutilus]
This fish, found in brackish and fresh waters, is native to the northern and western reaches of the Caspian Sea. At spawning time It enters the Volga, Ural, Emba, Terek and Kura river drainages. It may be a subspecies of the Common Roach which has a much larger range, including Norway, British Isles, Italy, the Adriatic basin, and Anatolia, but is not native to Iberia. Both are IUCN rated "Least Concern", but the Common Roach can become a pest.
The photo specimen, purchased from a multi-ethnic market in
Los Angeles, was from Russia, 10-1/2 inches long and weighed
4 ounces. It was packed with three smaller fish. Dried, salted Vobla
is quite an institution in Russia and Ukraine, and judging by the stores
I buy it from, it is also known in Armenia, and no doubt Georgia and
Azerbajan as well. It is often brought as a hostess gift by travelers
from Moscow. More on the Carp Family.
Buying: In my experience this fish is easily available, vacuum packaged in clear plastic, in the refrigerated section of any market serving a Russian, Ukranian or Armenian community - which means it is very common here in Los Angeles. It is cheap in Russia, but not so much so around here. I have purchased it for about 2013 US $11.50 / pound.
Eating: This dried fish is heavily salted, flat, thin,
completely covered with large hard scales, full of bones and
stiff as a board - so how do you eat this thing? Do you really want
to eat this thing? No you don't - not until you've eaten one - they're
kind of addictive - so here's how to acquire the addiction. Please note,
this is not something you want to do when you are in a hurry, or have
plans to go somewhere.