Friday, January 6, 2012

Recipes: Russian Pot Stickers (Pelmeni)

BY: Sam Parks (January 2012)

Most people associate pelmeni with Siberia, and in fact many recipes refer to them as "Siberian dumpling;” which isn’t exactly surprising since a critical step in their production involves freezing them.  Similar to pot stickers, empanadas, and the ubiquitous dumpling found in many cultures, I have updated the filling to reflect a post Iron Curtain exchange of culture between our two countries. 

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

Photo courtesy of the Hotel Telegraaf in Tallinn, Estonia


3 cups All-Purpose Flour
½ cup Boiling Water
3 Eggs (lightly beaten)
1 tsp Salt (amount may vary to taste)
1 tsp Sugar (optional)

1 lb. High Quality, low fat/ extra lean beef (too much fat and the pelmeni will be runny)
1 Onion
1 tsp Salt
8 oz. Cream Cheese
Hot Pepper Jelly to taste
seasoning to taste


To make the dough: sift the flour and the salt into the bowl of a food processor.  With the food processor running, slowly add the eggs to the flour mixture.  After the eggs have been incorporated, slowly add the water into the dough (not too fast, or you will cook the eggs).  Keep adding the water until the dough is evenly mixed.  At this point the dough will seem very dry and “crumbly” (similar to pasta dough).  Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for about 30-40 minutes.

For the filling: Place the ground beef, onion, and salt into the bowl of a food processor with a meat-cutting blade, and ground them evenly.  Add additional seasonings to taste.

To assemble pelmeni: first make thinly rolled, 2 in. circles of dough (a pasta press is a helpful tool for this step).  The dough should be very thin, approximately 1/32 of an inch, and look translucent.  After preparing the dough circles, place on a metal baking sheet and begin to scoop the filling by the teaspoon into the middle of the circles, beginning with the cream cheese, then the pepper jelly, and finally the beef mixture.  

Using your finger, take a few drops of cold water and lightly rub it into the outside edge of the circle.  Fold the circle over in half, squeeze the edges together all the way around, and gradually pinch the edge down as you would on a pie crust, until it looks like a braid.  When you are crimping the dough, make sure there are no holes. As you are making the pelmeni, put them onto a flour-dusted plate, and keep dusting between layers, so they don’t stick together.

To cook the pelmeni, bring a large pot of salted water or broth (for better flavor) to a boil, and load you pelmeni into the pot. They will be ready when they float to the top. Take the pelmeni out with a strainer, and serve hot, drizzled in butter, with lemon juice, vinegar and sour cream in separate dishes to be used as a garnish. You could also add a small salad made of coarsely chopped tomatoes and cucumbers in sour cream to add some refreshing color and a burst of vitamins. If you feel you have made too many pelmeni, feel free to freeze them before they are cooked.

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