If you told me that Russians had the most wonderful little dumplings I would have been skeptical. I mean, I've never heard of Russian dumplings. Hearty foods to make it through tough, cold winters yes. Soups and stews and pastas, yes. And if I had thought of a dumpling from Russia I would have figured thick, heavy dough. But delicate little dumplings? Never crossed my mind. Well I was wrong. I was so gloriously, wonderfully wrong.
Mr. L and I were both surprised when we walked into The Russian Deli that there were lots of options for dumplings (also known as Pelmeni or Pelmeny). There were not only different brands of frozen versions, there were homemade versions with no labels tied up in plastic bags. So Mr. L and I decided to try one of the pre-packaged frozen brands and one of the homemade brands (more on that in part 2).
I couldn't tell you why I picked the Popkoff's brand. I know that there were different types, this one being pork and beef (I think there were vegetable and chicken versions), along with different manufacturers. The ingredients listed the filling as "ground pork, beef, water, onions, all natural pork fat-no artificial ingredients, minimally processed". And they looked like little dumplings. Little tortellini. Except the dough wrappers seemed to be much thinner than regular pasta based dumplings. More like a thin pot-sticker wrapper.
After bringing them home I admit, I had no idea what to do with them. I figured I wouldn't be putting a lot of red italian pasta sauce on them LOL. Maybe use them in a soup? But it turns out, after doing some checking online, that they are usually cooked and then finished off with butter, sour cream or vinegar. So after cooking up a batch (takes 3-5 minutes after adding them to boiling water) I served them up with some butter. I also had a little bowl of vinegar and a bowl of sour cream ready, just so we could try the dumplings with those.
Oh. My. Lord. Best damn thing since sliced bread. I kid you not, they were incredible. Loved them. Loved them with butter. Loved them with sour cream. Loved them with vinegar. Loved them with butter, sour cream and vinegar mixed together! Seriously, I'm totally hooked on these dumplings. I crave them. I dream about them. I'd run several miles to get some exercise just so that I can eat a ton of them without guilt. Mr. L felt pretty much the same way. We ate the whole 16 ounce batch in one sitting. And wanted more.
The dough on these are pretty thin, you don't want to cook them in a rapid rolling boil, use more of a gentle boil. And you'll want to be careful taking them out of the water...don't dump them into a colander, take a slotted spoon and transfer them. There seems to be more filling than dough which I understand is pretty typical for pelmeni and what makes them a bit delicate.
I don't care that these weren't homemade (they actually came from Popkoff's Frozen Foods in San Francisco), I plan on making sure my freezer is always stocked with a package or two (or twelve). I think the cost was about $6 for the 16 ounce package. And as an aside, I actually liked these better than the homemade ones we bought (Mr. L loved these as much as I did but he ended up preferring the homemade version). Thank you Russian Olympics for bringing me my latest food obsession!