The omul (Coregonus migratorius) also known as « Baikal omul » is a whitefish species of the salmon family endemic to Lake Baikal in Siberia.
Situated in south-east Siberia, lake Baikal is the oldest and deepest lake in the world; it is also known as the Galapagos of Russia in recognition of its biodiversity and Russians are strongly attached to it because it represents the natural unspoiled beauty of the Russian motherland.
Omul is a slender, pelagic fish with light silver sides and a darker back ; it has small spots on its dorsal fin and larger ones on its head, a terminal mouth and a large number of grill rakers.
It is considered a food delicacy and it can be eaten in many ways: for example, smoked omul is sold around the lake and is one of the « food treasures » for many travelers on the Trans-siberian railway. It is used in a dish called « saguaday », a sort of salad made of raw omul with salt, pepper and oil ; or cooked on a stick: the freshly caught fish is washed, salted and pierced with a wooden stick along its ridge. The piercing must be gentle, in order not to damage the gallbladder. The sticks with omul fish are roasted, then served with scallions or rice. « Stroganina » is another Siberian salad and it consists in uncooked frozen omul cut finely and served with pepper, salt and onion.
As an endemic species the omul has been fished for long on the Baikal Lake, and it is an important element in the gastronomical identity of the inhabitants and the fishing comunities. Unfortunately, many stressors threaten this fish and the Baikal lake: climate change is one of the most evident, since it contributes to transform ecological balances, but also the high demand and the commercial fisheries that overfish it, contribute to list Omul as an endangered species.