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Ishkhan – the most popular Armenian freshwater fish

Ishkhan (“Prince” in Armenian) – is an endemic variety of trout found only in the Lake Sevan in Armenia. Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus and one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in the world.

This fish is endangered, due to changes in the lake’s level and the introduction of non-native fish species into the lake during the Soviet period.

Ishkhan has four distinct strains differing in their breeding time and place, and growth rate:

a) Winter Bakhtak is the largest form, and can grow to considerable size, up to 90 cm and 15 kg. It breeds within the lake.

b) Summer Bakhtak is smaller in size, up to 50 cm, and breeds naturally both in rivers and within lake near river mouths.

c) Gegharkuni is a migratory form, that naturally breeds exclusively in rivers, and it also feeds on plankton in addition to benthos.

d) Bojak is a dwarfed form, that breeds within the lake in the winter, and does not exceed 33 cm and 0.25 kg.

Ishkhan is considered a delicacy in Armenia, and can be prepared in an infinite number of ways, usually poached and flavored with bay leaves, fresh tarragon, and peppercorns. You can order it be boiled, grilled, fried or braised with almonds. It is also delicious when stuffed with hazelnuts or apricots. The most famous Ishkhan dish sees the fish cooked in wine and seasoned with basil, tarragon, chives and pepper.

Locals and tourists especially drive to Lake Sevan to eat Ishkhan, dining in family run restaurants overlooking the lake. For more information about the best dining options at Lake Sevan, contact us at info@phoenixtour.am

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