Beef Stroganoff or Beef Stroganov (in Russian: Бефстроганов Befstróganov) is a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana or sour cream. From its origins in 19th-century Russia, it has become popular around the world, with considerable variation from the original recipe.
Various explanations are given for the name, presumably derived from some member of the large and important Stroganov family, perhaps Alexander Grigorievich Stroganoff of Odessa or a diplomat, Count Pavel Stroganov.
Elena Molokhovets' classic Russian cookbook A Gift to Young Housewives (1861) gives the first known recipe for Govjadina po-strogonovski, s gorchitseju "Beef à la Stroganov, with mustard" which involves lightly floured beef cubes (not strips) sautéed, sauced with prepared mustard and bouillon, and finished with a small amount of sour cream: no onions, no mushrooms. An 1890 competition is sometimes mentioned in the dish's history, but both the recipe and the name existed before then. A 1912 recipe adds onions and tomato paste, and serves it with crisp potato straws, which are considered the traditional side dish in Russia. The version given in the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique includes beef strips, and onions, with either mustard or tomato paste optional.
After the fall of Imperial Russia, the recipe was popularly served in the hotels and restaurants of China before the start of the Second World War. Russian and Chinese immigrants, as well as U.S. servicemen stationed in pre-Communist China, brought several variants of the dish to the United States, which may account for its popularity during the 1950s. It came to Hong Kong in the late fifties, with Russian restaurants and hotels serving the dish with rice, but not sour cream. In the version often prepared in the USA today in restaurants and hotels, it consists of strips of beef filet with a mushroom, onion, and sour cream sauce, and is served over rice or pasta.
In the UK and Australia, a recipe very similar to that commonly found in the USA has become popular, generally served with rice. British pubs usually serve the dish to a creamy white wine style recipe, whereas more 'authentic' versions are often red stews with a scoop of sour cream separately served on top.
Larousse Gastronomique lists Stroganov as a cream, paprika, veal stock and white wine recipe. The Brazilian variant includes diced beef or strips of beef (usually filet mignon) with tomato sauce, onions, mushrooms and heavy whipping cream. Stroganoff is also often made with strips of chicken breast rather than beef (also called fricassee in some restaurants in Brazil). Brazilians also prepare stroganoff with chicken or even shrimp instead of beef. It is commonly served with potato sticks, as in Russia, but with the addition of white rice. Sometimes one can also see creative servings of estrogonofe, such as a crepe filling, a topping for baked potatoes, or on pizzas. Many recipes and variations exist: with or without wine, with canned sweet corn, with ketchup instead of tomato sauce, etc.
Stroganoff is also popular in the Nordic countries. In Sweden, a common variant is korv-stroganoff (sausage stroganoff), which uses the local falukorv sausage as a substitute for the beef. In Finland, the dish is called makkarastroganoff, makkara meaning any kind of sausage. Beef stroganoff is, however, also a common dish. Diced brined pickles are also a normal ingredient in Finnish stroganoff.
Stroganoff's popularity extends to Japan, where it is most commonly served with white rice, or white rice seasoned with parsley and butter. Its popularity increased dramatically with the introduction of "instant sauce cubes" from S&B corporation. These are cubes with dried seasoning and thickening agents that can be added to water, onion, beef, and mushrooms to make a stroganoff-style sauce. Additionally, Japanese home recipes for stroganoff frequently call for "non-traditional" Japanese ingredients, such as small amounts of soy sauce.
Beef Stroganoff is popular in Iran, where it is made with strips of lean beef fried with onion and mushroom, then further cooked in cream and topped with French-fried style potato crisps.
See also 
- Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. "beef".
- Joyce Toomre, ed., Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets' A Gift to Young Housewives, 1992; first edition of Molokhovets was 1861; the 1912 recipe mentioned by Toomre is in Alekandrova-Ignat'eva.
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- The Food Timeline has some quotes about the dish.