Make Pelmeni, the Ultimate Dumpling For Butter Lovers
The Russian dumplings, best served golden
This article is part of our monthly issue “#ThrowbackNovember,” in which we’ll explore various aspects of childhood memory through the lens of food. We’ll share fun recipes that riff on those memories and a slew of fantastic videos featuring our team in hopes that you’ll watch, share, and comment on with your own nostalgia-filled takes. Check out this link to find an overview of all our weekly topics, stories, recipes, and more.
"Pelmeni aren’t a ‘regular’ food.” This was the first thing our video editor Artur said about the Russian dumplings of his childhood when I called him up, home office to home office.
Throwback November has had us smear the plates of our childhood food memories and look back at what’s changed since then: Xueci, allegedly, no longer demands McDonalds for her birthday, but, in Artur’s family, pelmeni have stood the test of time and are a dish that moved with the family from Siberia to Germany.
Like many a dumpling, these meat-filled, pillowy delights are not something you make just any old time. "They’re more for special occasions, like Russian New Year, which is kind of the Russian equivalent to Christmas,” he recalls. “Pelmeni are something the whole family makes together. My dad would roll out the dough, while my mom and I, and sometimes my sister, would put in the filling and fold them. You cut out circles of dough, put the filling in and then pinch them in, kind of like tortellini. Making pelmeni is a big process because you always make more than you need so you can freeze the rest—you take out the leftovers when you need them and fry them.” Leftovers can then be called upon, thrown into a hot pan with bubbling butter, and brought back to life.
As we know, it’s what's on the inside that counts and my question about different fillings was gently put to rest. “Like all Russian dumplings, the filling is meat and onions. We have a lot of different kinds of dumplings, some made with yeasted dough, but they’re all variations on this theme.”
If he were to vary the recipe, garlic would be a good fit, he said. A bold move in the eye of tradition—but one that he suggested to Johanna, who developed the recipe for Kitchen Stories. Her version is based on Artur’s mom’s ingredients, but it did call for a little deduction: Like all good dishes passed down generations, her recipe was a brief list of ingredients, light on both measures and instructions. Garlic, though, made it in. Try the recipe below, and let us know your thoughts!
How to serve pelmini
“After you’ve formed them, you eat them straight away like this, literally drowned in butter or you can also serve them with sour cream. My parents are crazy though, they put a whole stick of butter in—too much—and at a certain point, more just doesn’t add anything, you’re just left with dumplings in a pool of butter. I personally like them better when they’re boiled and then just fried in some butter.”
In the spirit of Throwback November, we asked Artur if there were any other foods he remembers strongly from childhood. “I don’t have that many food memories from Russia as a kid. I remember there weren’t a lot of sweets around, so my aunt would spread sour cream on bread and then sprinkle it with sugar. I came home after eating it and told my mum I’d had cake—she was so confused!"
How do you like to eat your pelmeni? In sour cream or bathed in butter? Let us know in the comments below!
Published on November 28, 2020