The Year of the Water Dragon is just around the corner, and on January 23rd we will celebrate Chinese New Year. With western and eastern orthodox New Year (January lst and 14th) behind us, there is still one more opportunity to make resolutions, set goals, make your vision board or just have a plain ol’ good time and pop the bubbly.
Last week I made one of my pilgrimages to Chinatown, San Francisco, with writer Carol Blackman (www.moretosayfromsf.com). I needed to replenish my stash of fortune cookies for the dragon in my house. In Ross Alley, you can buy fresh, tasty Chinese cookies including traditional and chocolate versions of the cookie we all love to break. My mothers’ Siberian friends on the other hand, always made Pelmeny this time of year. Having a Pelmeny party is a great way of gathering friends and cooking together. These dumplings are definitely comfort food when it’s cold outside. Of course in Siberia the freezer was your windowsill, not SubZero. In either case, here’s the recipe, you decide on the storage…
Olga Lobanovsky’s Dough: 3 eggs beaten with 8, 1/2 eggshells of water (app. 3/4c) , 1 tsp salt, 3 cups of flour, approximately.
Beat eggs with water and salt. Add enough flour to make a ball of dough. Knead it lightly on a well-floured surface, adding more flour as needed, for a light but not sticky dough. Divide it into three balls; Dust them with flour and place in plastic bags to keep from drying out. Let rest 20 minutes.
Roll out dough on a well-floured pastry cloth or board. Cut 2” circles close together. Fill circles with a teaspoon of meat. Stretch the little circles of dough as you pinch the edges over the meat filling, bring the tips together to form a Pelmen (a single ravioli). Place leftover dough into a plastic bag. Work the next ball, then the third, saving the scraps after each roll. Finally combine all scraps into one ball, roll out and cut more circles. This dough will be a little tougher than the first “roll” but if you roll it out thinly, it’s still usable. After the filling is used any leftover dough can be rolled out and cut to make soup noodles (lopsha, fresh pasta Russian style).
Meat filling for about 150 Pelmeny: 1 lb. ground round (beef), 1 lb. ground chuck, 1/2 lb ground pork, 1/2 lb. ground lamb, 3 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1-2 cups water (Watch the consistency of the meat. Too much water makes it too sticky and difficult to work with.), 1 onion, grated, 2 cloves garlic, pressed, 1/4 tsp. dill weed
Cooking: Boil in a large pot of salted water until the Pelmeny float, about 8-10 minutes. Serve in your favorite broth. Olga Lobanovsky preferred Campbell’s Beef Consume. Pelmeni can also be panfried in butter (right out of the freezer) until browned on both sides and served as an appetizer.
Dipping Sauce: Sour cream mixed with ketchup and soy to your taste.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!