There is something universal about dumplings—we all connect over our shared love of boiled dough stuffed with a filling of sorts. While there are so many types of dumplings native to different parts of the former Soviet Union, Siberia’s claim to fame is its own signature type called Siberian pelmeni. These tiny round dumplings stuffed with a blend of ground pork and beef are consumed with a generous chunk of butter, black pepper, and sour cream or—and this is my family’s favorite—in their own richly flavored cooking broth, with plenty of black pepper, of course! My dad would often have these (as well as pretty much anything else) with soy sauce that his mother would send us from his home town of Khabarovsk way before it became widely available in shops all over Russia. Since pelmeni were usually eaten in winter when no fresh herbs were available, adding fresh dill was not common practice, but I would highly recommend this to you these days, as well as experimenting with other non-Russian herbs. Pelmeni in sage butter, anyone?
For the dough
For the meat filling
For the fish filling
For the mushroom filling
For the cooking broth (optional)
Salt & Time
by Alissa Timoshkina
To make the dough, sift the flour onto a clean, dry work surface. Make a well in the middle and add the salt, eggs, and measured water, gradually mixing the flour into it with your hands to form a firm dough. Knead well for 5–7 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare your fillings.
To make the meat and fish fillings, thoroughly mix the respective ingredients together in separate large bowls.
To make the vegetable filling, finely chop the mushrooms, onion, garlic, and parsley in a food processor. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the vegetable mixture with the soy sauce for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture cool before handling.
The dough should be ready by this point. Take it out of the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface. For best results, use a pasta machine, since you need to make sheets that are about 1.5 mm thick, which you will get by using a number 7 setting on your pasta machine.
Using a shot glass or cookie cutter, cut out discs of dough about 1 1/2–2 1/2 inches (4–6 cm) in diameter. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each disc and fold in half to make a half-moon shape, then fold again so that the edges of the half-moon are stuck together.
The dumplings can be cooked immediately or frozen to be cooked at a later date using the same method as below, increasing the cooking time as necessary.
To cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, adding the bay leaf and bouillon cube. Add the pelmeni, in batches, to the boiling broth and cook for 5 minutes per batch. You know they are ready when they float up to the surface.
Ladle your pelmeni into soup bowls with the cooking broth, topping them with fresh herbs, sour cream, and black pepper. If you prefer to have them without the broth, transfer them to the bowls using a slotted spoon and add a generous dollop of butter as well as the rest of the serving ingredients. This makes around 10 servings of dumplings, but if that’s more than the number of mouths that you have to feed, they freeze well kept in flat layers in a freezer bag.
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Recipe excerpted from Salt & Time: Recipes from a Modern Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina. Copyright 2109 Mitchell Beazley.