Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fast Food: Pelmeni

You might think that pelmeni--Russian dumplings with meat filling--are a special-occasion food. They're time-consuming to make--you have to mess around with pasta dough, for one. Plus you’ve got to make the stuffing, roll out the dough, fill the dumplings and in all likelihood freeze them, as pelmeni are usually made by the hundreds.

Despite all this effort, pelmeni are considered a quick and low-maintenance meal in many Russian households. Boil a pot of water, toss in some dumplings, and in about seven minutes dinner's ready. Of course, many Russians in the U.S. (and probably nowadays in Russia) simply buy ready-made pelmeni and keep them in the freezer for emergency meals.

Above is a shot of my recent pelmeni dinner (our pelmeni came by way of an aunt who buys them from some lady in what I call Milwaukee's "Little Brooklyn," i.e. Shorewood). I prettied up my pelmeni with some sautéed mushrooms and a handful of chopped dill, but that's optional. Sour cream, I feel, is not, but some like to top pelmeni with butter or a bit of white vinegar.

I think nearly every Russian grocery in the U.S. carries pelmeni in its freezer case. In the Milwaukee area, I recommend Spartak in Whitefish Bay. If you want to tackle homemade pelmeni, see this promising-looking recipe from the blog Tea and Cookies.

11 comments:

adele said...

When I visit New York in the winter, I nearly always stop at the restaurant Uncle Vanya's for a bowl of pelmeni. I do want to try making my own sometime, but I keep getting sidetracked by new ravioli ideas.

Irene said...

Ha! My husband and I have a raging debate about how to top pelmeni. We agree on butter, but he likes his with white vinegar and cracked black pepper (ugh, really?) and I'm a sour cream girl. :) And we are both very loyal to our ideas about how pelmeni should be properly eaten!

Julia (alias Yulinka Cooks) said...

Adele--I've wanted to go to NY to sample Russian & Uzbek food that I can't get here for quite a while. The NYT ran a fascinating story on Uzbek dumplings & noodles a few years ago.

Irene--Sour cream is a must for me. As for eating pelmeni properly, I bet one of you thinks that they should always be eaten whole!

raiuchka said...

Yum, oh how I love pelmeni! I usually toss them in butter as they come out of the pot, and for my own bowl I use sour cream, white vinegar (just a few drops), and cracked black pepper.

Anna said...

They are also awesome pan-fried the next day. Then, you definitely want a bit of sour cream. But on the first day, since I'm not much of a sour cream girl, I like them in butter with black pepper. YUM!

Julia (alias Yulinka Cooks) said...

Raiuchka--I agree about the black cracked pepper--it really adds a nice bite.

Anna--I never have leftovers to eat the next day!

Lo said...

These look amazing. Indeed -- although I've only had pelmeni once, they tasted like special occasion food to me. SO good.

This is something I'd totally take the time to make. Weekend food, for sure, but the process for food like this is so gratifying!

Guerilla Chef said...

Pelmini are awesome! I get mine from Yasha From Russia in Phoenix, AZ. I think he makes them himself because they have his label on them. They're delicious. It's just too bad Phoenix is 150 miles away, so I don't get down there often.

Katrina said...

god, these look good! It reminds me of all those long evenings when me and my mother would roll out the dough for pelmeni and make hundreds and hundreds of these small juicy jewels!

does anyone eat pelmeni in its stock, served in a bowl like soup? best!

Julia (alias Yulinka Cooks) said...

Katrina: I love pelmeni in stock, and I blogged about it here:
http://yulinkacooks.blogspot.com/2008/01/chicken-soup-with-spinach-and-pelmeni.html

irina said...

You've just given me a great idea, Yulinka. Apparently there's a large Russian grocery store where I now live (Dallas), so I'm going to see if they have any frozen pelmeni. And the mushrooms look delicious, just gorgeous!

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