My authentic Russian beef Stroganoff recipe makes the deliciously rich and creamy braised beef and mushroom dish cooked centuries ago in the grand kitchen of St Petersburg’s glorious pink Stroganov Palace. Better known as a retro classic of the 1970s, beef Stroganoff is rich in history and incredibly comforting. It’s the dish that you need to make right now.
I’m sharing my authentic Russian beef Stroganoff with you for the holidays, which I always use as an excuse to cook the family recipes of the Russian-Ukrainian side of my family. Because apart from eating, there are few things more comforting than cooking, especially the dishes of our childhoods. And who doesn’t need food that comforts right now?
My hearty Russian beef Stroganoff recipe makes just such a dish and it’s one of my best Stroganoff recipes, as well as best mushroom recipes. If you’re a lover of beef Stroganoff, I also have recipes for chicken Stroganoff, meatball Stroganoff, mushroom Stroganoff, and pork Stroganoff, which uses the Chinese velveting technique, and traditional Stroganoff accompaniments, crispy shoestring fries, mashed potatoes and buckwheat kasha.
Stroganoff is a dish I’ve adored since I first developed an insatiable curiosity about cooking, watching my rosy-cheeked baboushka prepare piroshki, cabbage rolls and chicken kotleti; stuff cucumbers into enormous jars to make dill pickles; and stir massive pots of borscht on the stove in her light-filled kitchen in the red-brick home my grandfather built in Blacktown, Sydney.
A traditional holiday is the perfect excuse to roll up goluptsi, fold dumplings around fillings, and let Stroganoff simmer as I channel my long-departed loved-ones and the food rituals I fondly recall from being raised in our Russian-Ukrainian-Australian households in Sydney’s western suburbs in the 1970s.
But before I tell you more about my traditional beef Stroganoff recipe, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is supported by its readers. If you’ve cooked this dish or any of my Russian-Ukrainian family recipes, our Cambodian recipes, or any recipes at all on Grantourismo, and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo so that we can keep creating delicious recipes and food stories for you.
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Russian Beef Stroganoff Recipe for a Retro Classic from a Palace of Russian Nobles
Holidays for me is all about cooking and eating the food from my childhood growing up in a Russian-Ukrainian-Australian household in Sydney in the 1970s and 80s. The traditional food we cooked and ate included this retro-classic dish which my mum used to make that was so very fashionable in Australia in the Seventies.
Beef Stroganoff was an aristocratic Russian dish with peasant roots. There were mushrooms and beef stews centuries before this Russian beef Stroganoff recipe was thought to have been invented. Beef Stroganoff was refined in the Stroganov dynasty’s St Petersburg palace kitchen by a French chef, before it would go on to travel the world with Russian émigrés and refugees of World War II like my grandparents, becoming popular everywhere from China and Hong Kong to Australia and the Americas.
So while Terence has been baking, I’ve been cooking Russian-Ukrainian comfort food, including this Russian beef Stroganoff recipe, and other traditional recipes that I’ve been refining for the Russian-Ukrainian-Australian cookbook and family memoir I’ve been writing.
I made the dish pictured above yesterday and we’re eating leftovers tonight with my mum’s potato gratin. Tomorrow I’m going to put a big pot of soup on in the morning (probably this mushroom soup with handmade noodles) then Terence and I will spend the afternoon making more of my Russian favourites: potato and caramelised onion-stuffed vareniki and minced beef and pork-filled pelmeni.
On the side, I’ll serve a crisp Russian garden salad with fresh dill, sweet tomatoes, and crunchy red radishes, lettuce and onions. Leftovers will get eaten on Sunday morning, when I make fried Russian dumplings for brunch on the balcony.
But let me tell you about my Russian beef Stroganoff recipe, which will make you a deliciously rich and ultra creamy rendition of the braised beef and mushroom dish that was cooked in that grand kitchen of the Stroganov Palace. And, yes, the Stroganov family spell their name with a ‘v’. It’s thought the ‘ff’ came when it was written on menus in French, as in ‘boeuf Stroganoff’ which was fashionable in Russia in those days.
If you’ve been to the enchanting city of St Petersburg, one of my favourite cities in the world, you may well have passed the elegant palace on the corner of Nevsky Prospect and the Moika River Embankment on the divine canal cruise. It’s hard to miss. I’m going to tell you more about the palace and the Stroganov family in a separate post.
My Russian beef Stroganoff recipe is based on a combination of memories and recipes: firstly, my memories of eating the dish, because unfortunately our hand-written family recipes are with my mum in Australia and we’re in Cambodia. Hopefully I’ll finally get hold of them when I’m reunited with mum soon.
Secondly, my recipe is also based on the earliest documented Russian beef Stroganoff recipes which for many are the most authentic beef Stroganoff recipes by Elena Molokhovets in A Gift to Young Housewives dating to 1861, and Pelageya Aleksandrova-Ignatieva’s beef Stroganoff recipe in Practical Basics of Culinary Arts, dating to 1899. While trying to replicate my family’s recipe, I’ve also endeavoured to remain loyal to those early recipes.
Lastly, I’ve also drawn inspiration from the beef Stroganoff that travelled to China and East Asia with Russian émigrés (which explains my inclusion of a quintessentially Asian ingredient) and on the beef Stroganoff that we tasted with mum at Café Pushkin in Moscow when we took her to Europe after dad died. It’s considered by some restaurant critics to be the best beef Stroganoff in Russia, although I do think my beef Stroganoff is better.
I grew up on mum’s classic beef Stroganoff of melt-in-the-mouth slices of beef in a creamy gravy, served with dad’s chunky mashed potatoes. Aside from the mushrooms and onions, mum’s beef Strog (Australians shorten everything!) wasn’t too far removed in flavour from that earliest documented Russian beef Stroganoff recipe in Elena Molokhovets’ A Gift to Young Housewives.
As tasty as it is, Molokhovets’ recipe for Govjadina po-strogonovski s gorchitseju or ‘beef in the Stroganoff style with mustard’, includes tender beef, allspice, butter, salt, flour (to coat the beef), sour cream, bouillon, pepper, and Sareptskaja mustard. Her recipe didn’t list paprika, which, for me, is an essential ingredient in beef Stroganoff, nor the other condiment that I love to include and that’s my (not-so) secret ingredient: fish sauce.
While mushrooms and onions may well have featured in the original beef Stroganoff dish served in the sumptuous dining room of the pink Stroganoff Palace in St Petersburg in the late 1700s, they didn’t appear in the early beef Stroganoff recipes for another century or so.
That doesn’t mean Russians weren’t already eating beef stews or beef and mushroom stews – there are detailed instructions for preparing beef stews using every bit of the cow in Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible, first published in 1533 – and mushrooms feature heavily, fresh, dried, pickled, boiled, baked, and fried in butter; in pies, pastries, patties, fritters, tarts, dumplings, soups, and stews.
In 1899, Pelageya Aleksandrova-Ignatieva’s beef Stroganoff recipe in her Practical Guide to the Basics of Culinary Arts called for beef tenderloin, butter, tomato paste, sour cream, beef broth, fume (an aspic-like bone broth), sausage, onion, salt, pepper, and Kabul sauce. But still no mushrooms in her Stroganoff.
That Kabul sauce – or Soy Kabul sauce or Mogul sauce, as it was also called – was listed as an ingredient in an Olivier salad recipe published in the March 1894 issue of the Russian culinary magazine Наша пища or Our Food, edited by M Ignatiev, and I’m going to tell you more about Kabul sauce in my meatball Stroganoff recipe.
As for when mushrooms appeared in the gently spiced mushroom gravy that distinguishes beef Stroganoff? I’m going to tell you all about that in my mushroom Stroganoff post. Links to both of those Stroganoff recipes at the top of the post.
Tips to Making this Authentic Beef Stroganoff Recipe
I only have a few tips to making my authentic beef Stroganoff recipe as it’s actually very easy. If you’re not Russian or Ukrainian, not of Russian-Ukrainian heritage, and haven’t eaten your way through Russia or Ukraine, my traditional beef Stroganoff might be a little different to the modern beef Stroganoff recipes you’ve cooked.
Of course that goes without saying if your experience of beef Stroganoff was the paler creamy American-style beef Stroganoff made from canned mushroom soup. I’m sure that must bring back a lot of nostalgic childhood memories for many of our readers.
My family always used fresh mushrooms in a traditional beef Stroganoff. Back in my great-grandmother’s day, when my baboushka was a child, it would have been wild mushrooms that they foraged from the forest around their village not far from Odesa, in the land we now know as Ukraine. My great-grandmother was born when it was still Odessa, during the Russian Empire, and my baba was actually born on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution.
If you can, use brown mushrooms or wild foraged mushrooms or whatever mushrooms you can source. I actually prefer shiitake mushrooms, as they’re abundant and affordable here in Southeast Asia, and I love their earthy taste and meaty texture.
My beef Stroganoff is still creamy, but mostly from sour cream or smetana, not thickened cream. I use half as much cream as sour cream, and sometimes I skip the cream completely. My beef Stroganoff is also more richly spiced than most, as I use the allspice originally used in the earliest beef Stroganoff recipes that is often left off the ingredients list of modern recipes.
As delicious as it is, Molokhovets’ recipe for ‘beef in the Stroganoff style with mustard’ or Govjadina po-strogonovski s gorchitseju lists tender beef, allspice, butter, salt, flour (to coat the beef), sour cream, bouillon, pepper, and Sareptskaja mustard. While I adore Sareptskaja mustard, and you can buy it online (link above), sadly, we can’t get Amazon deliveries here, so I use wholegrain mustard. Molokhovets’ recipe didn’t list paprika nor the Asian condiment I love to include my Stroganoff.
Ground paprika is a must as far as I’m concerned – try to get hold of a sweet Hungarian paprika – as is fish sauce, which I love in my beef Strog: it adds umami, not a fishy taste. While I’ve said fish sauce is optional, below, as I know not everyone loves fish sauce as much as I do, please try my beef Stroganoff with fish sauce.
When it comes to fish sauce, I recommend Thailand’s Megachef for a top quality fish sauce, as its sodium levels are always consistent. Megachef is easy to find throughout Asia and in Australia, UK and Europe, however, not in the USA apparently, where our American friends mostly recommend Red Boat Fish Sauce.
I always serve my beef Stroganoff with either shoestring fries (beef Stroganoff’s traditional side), creamy mashed potatoes (Terence’s recipe is the best) or buckwheat kasha. Links to all of those recipes above. Some enjoy rice or pasta with their Stroganoff and that’s fine, too. A fresh Russian garden salad is absolutely essential.
I’d love to know what you think if you make my authentic Russian beef Stroganoff recipe. And if you do enjoy it, please let us know in the comments below, and do browse this collection of our best stew recipes for more comforting dishes.
Russian Beef Stroganoff Recipe
- 800 g beef steak - tenderloin or fillet
- 1 tbsp allspice - ground
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 white onions - roughly sliced
- 250 g brown mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms - sliced in halves or thirds depending on size
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- 200 ml sour cream
- 100 ml cream
- 150 ml beef stock
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tbsp fish sauce - optional
- ½ tsp salt or to taste - optional
- Two hours before you plan to start cooking, trim the beef of fat and, cutting against the grain, slice the beef into pieces of around 2cm x 5cm.
- Transfer the beef to a sealed container and sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of allspice onto the beef, rubbing it into the meat to ensure it is evenly distributed, then refrigerate for two hours.
- In a cast iron skillet or large pan, gently fry the onion slices in a tablespoon of butter until translucent and soft, then set aside.
- In the same skillet or pan, add another tablespoon of butter, the mushrooms, black pepper, paprika, and a splash of olive oil, then turn up the heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft, then set aside with the onions.
- In a wok, heat the cooking oil until hot, then stir-fry the beef on high heat for a minute or so until brown then remove from heat to rest.
- To the skillet or pan you cooked the onions and mushrooms in, add the sour cream and cream, turn the heat on low and stir until warm, slowly adding the beef stock, stirring to combine. Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan, then the mustard, stir to combine, and gently simmer.
- Add the beef pieces to then pan, then the fish sauce, stir to combine well, and taste, adding the salt if needed. (Sometimes I add more all spice at this point).
- Simmer for ten minutes or so, then serve on individual plates, garnished with fresh dill, and with sides of crispy shoestring fries, mashed potato or potato gratin, gherkins, and additional sour cream.
Please do let us know if you make this Russian beef Stroganoff recipe as we’d love to know how it turned out for you. You can share your experience and tips or ask questions in the comments below, or tag us on Instagram.