Kazakhstan is a paradise for meat lovers, and horse meat is particularly prized by Kazakhs. In the past, only the well-to-do could afford to slaughter a horse for food, making shuzhuk a true delicacy. This smoked and dried sausage is usually served in slices as an appetizer and is made by combining rib meat and fat in an intestinal casing. The ratio of meat and fat will vary, but the coloring of slices can sometimes be an even divide of dark and light. The consistency tends to be like a dry, yet buttery pot roast. A Kazakh host takes particular pride in offering shuzhuk at dinner, so it is always best to dig in with relish.
Shuzhuk will most certainly be a centerpiece of any Kazakh feast, known as a dastarkhan, the term for the low table upon which the meal is traditionally served. The main course at a dastarkhan will likely be beshbarmak (which means “five fingers” for the manner in which the meal is eaten) and will consist of either boiled chunks of horse meat or mutton. A Kazakh dinner can easily occupy many hours, so guests should strap on their feed bags and pace themselves.
Where to Try It
Restaurant Abay41 Omarovoi St., Kok Tobe, 050000, Kazakhstan
This Kazakh restaurant serves shuzhuk along with many Kazakh specialties.
- SHADKAM, Zubaida, and Yktiyar PALTORE. "LINGUOCULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF GUEST HOSTING TRADITIONS OF KAZAKH AND TURKISH PEOPLE." Turkish Culture & Haci Bektas Veli Research Quarterly 86 (2018).