Almost every national cuisine boasts its own version of boiled dumplings wrapped around pockets of seasoned meat. Pel’meni are the Siberian specialty, now popular throughout Russia. Moscow alone has several pel’mennye, cafés specializing in these dumplings. Pel’meni are practical for the harsh Siberian winter. Prepared in large quantities, they can be buried in the snow, where they keep for months on end, ready to boil up at a moment’s notice.
Siberians swear by a mustard and vinegar sauce for pel’meni: place a spoonful of hot mustard on the edge of each plate and mix it with concentrated vinegar to taste. Muscovites prefer a milder garnish, slathering butter and sour cream on the dumplings in lavish amounts. Pel’meni are most often served steaming hot, mounded high on a platter, but they may also be eaten in chicken broth.
When making pel’meni, it’s wise to make a lot. As one Russian saying goes, “You can never have too many pel’meni.” And once you’ve tasted these wonderful dumplings, you’re bound to agree.