ust ONE is called a "pelemen." But many are called "pelmeni" and they are one of the most traditional (and delicious) of Russian dishes. Making or eating just one is near impossible.
Most people associate pelmeni with Siberia, and many recipes and references to the dish call it "Siberian dumplings." Pelmeni probably did originate in Siberia, where hundreds or even thousands could be made, and then frozen and stored outside during the long winters. However, the dumplings became very popular all over Russia. They are closely kin to "pot stickers," "pierogies," and other similar dumplings found in many cultures.
The Russian variety traditionally is made of flour, milk, one egg, and salt. The dough is rolled out fairly thin, and cut in circles approximately two inches in diameter. The filling is usually a mixture of minced pork, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pork is often preferred because it makes for a very tender, juicy pelmeni. Pelmeni should never be dry.
The most traditional way of making pelmeni is by hand. You simply take a circle of dough, spoon in a little filling, fold the top edge of the circle over the filling, sealing it to the bottom edge very tightly with your fingers. Next, join the ends and pinch closed.
Set a large pot of water to boil. Once the water is boiling, add two teaspoons of salt, approximately 15-20 pelmeni, and three bay leaves. Boil until filling is completely cooked, remove the pelmeni into a bowl, and serve with sour cream, soy sauce, hot mustard, and pepper.
For many generations, making pelmeni has been a fun activity for Russian families. Tradition dictates that the whole family gathers round the table, from young to old, and helps to make the dumplings while talking, singing and laughing. It is not at all unusual to enjoy a bit of vodka during pelmeni manufacture! Pelmeni are a popular holiday dish.
Many Russian families make thousands of pelmeni and freeze them. There are few more convenient, spirit-warming, filling dishes on a cold winter's day than Pelmeni.
Another tradition associated with pelmeni is to place silver coins inside a few of the dumplings. Good luck is predicted to the ones who find a coin in their pelmeni. Also, if you find a bay leaf in your bowl of pelmeni, you will have good luck.
For modern convenience, pelmeni-making molds were invented which are really just to press through the two layers of dough and filling, sealing as it goes.
By Cheryl Adams Rychkova