Updated: Oct 8
Russians prepare addictive dumplings, called pelmeni, in large quantities, and they eat them immediately or freeze them for future use. Perhaps pelmeni was originally a frozen dinner. During the deep Russian winter, pelmeni could be buried in the snow or hung in a bag outside an apartment window where they can keep for months. Sometimes the whole family would gather together and make a ton all at once so they could save them for future dinners.
Siberians love to garnish their dumplings with Russian-style mustard or vinegar. I grew up by eating pelmeni or vareniki (Ukrainian dumplings), at least once a week. It was so popular in my family. My sister served pelmeni with a simple vinegar-based sauce. To this day, this sauce is still my favorite. It reminds me of my childhood.
Pelmeni can be made with a mold, or by hand, and I will go over the second option in detail. When you make it by hand, you have no leftover dough scraps.
Living in Ukraine, I never met one person who couldn’t make pelmeni. I think the technique of how to pinch dumplings comes with mother's milk. I was probably 5 when I started making dumplings with my mom. She has always been known as a very patient person. So let’s take a look at this super easy and tasty recipe.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Yield: About 70 Pelmeni
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons Celtic salt
1 pound ground beef or pork
3 tablespoons green onions, chopped
1 large onion, grated
1-2 teaspoons Celtic salt
Few turns freshly ground black pepper
½ cup melted butter
1 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
Scallions and dill, chopped (for garnish, omit if you can’t find fresh dill)
See below for my sister’s vinegar dipping sauce.
1. To make the dough, mix together the flour, eggs, salt, and water with an electric mixer with the hook attachment.
2. Knead until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.
3. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
4. To make the fillings, switch to the whisk attachment and add all the filling ingredients.
5. Mix well until the mixture looks even.
6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and start working with one piece at the time. Keep the rest of the dough covered when you’re not working with it.
7. With your hands, roll the dough into a thin sausage-looking shape.
8. With a generous amount of flour on your working space, place your sausage-looking shape dough on the working space.
9. Start cutting the dough into pieces with a knife dough, just eyeballing to make sure every piece looks the same size and shape (it looks very much like Italian gnocchi).
10. Roll with rolling pin each piece into disks that are pancake-size.
11. Place one teaspoon of filling in the center of each disk. Bring one edge of the dough over to meet the other and seal the edges to form a half-moon. Then bring the two pointed edges together in the center of the half-moon along its straight edge, lifting them slightly to form a tortellini-like dumpling. Make sure that the edges are securely pressed together. As each ball is formed, place it on a floured dish.
12. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
13. When ready to serve, bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Drop the pelmeni into the water, making sure not to crowd them. After the pot gets back to boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook them for 5-8 minutes.
14. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the dumplings from the water to a warm serving dish and pour melted butter over them. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
15. Serve with sour cream, cream fraiche or my sister’s vinegar dipping sauce.
To make sure pelmeni are cooked, after they rise to the surface, cook for another 3 more minutes before removing them.
To freeze pelmeni for future use, lay them out on a plate generously dusted with flour. Freeze until they are completely hard, then transfer to a freezer bag. They last in the freezer for up to three months.
To serve pelmeni as a soup (very comforting on cold days), simply boil them in chicken stock or beef stock, then top with minced dill and a dollop of sour cream.
Cold leftover dumplings can be fried in butter until crisp and golden. My mom always did that with vareniki or pelmeni for our breakfast.
My Sister’s Vinegar Dipping Sauce Ingredients
¼ cup extra virgin sunflower oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
My Sister's Vinegar Dipping Sauce Directions
Mix all ingredients together. That’s it!