Varenecki & Pelmeni - How to Prepare Them?
- Niki Rothman
I bought some frozen meat & onion varenecki and also some potato and mushroom varenecki from a Russian market. My tendency would be to boil until they float and serve in broth, with maybe some cooked veg. such as cabbage and carrots - maybe a bit of sour cream.
Is this the best thing to do with varenecki? Would you ever fry them, or bake them? Are they better fried? Would you boil them first - how long? Fry in butter? Brown them? Should the butter brown, or would I fry them on a low flame to prevent the butter from browning, or is oil better? What kind of sauce? what veg.? Are there other things to do with varenecki?
What side dishes would go well with them?
I've had frozen pelmeni from a Lebanese shop before, they were made from pork. I did the broth, cabbage, sour cream thing. I didn't like them that much. Are pelmeni and varenecki the same thing - or would there be any differences in preparation & the sauces, side dishes that would go best? Are both Russian? How do you prepare and serve pelmeni?
Wow, that's a lot of questions. Let me see what I can do...
Pelmeni are a Russian (specifically Siberian) dish. They are filled with a mixture of meats, usually beef, pork, and veal, and shaped like large tortellini. You boil them in satled water like pasta (about 3 minutes after they float -- taste one to test for doneness). Then drained and tossed with very generous amount of butter (about 1 Tbsp per serving). You can eat them as is, or add some combination of sour cream, black pepper, or a little (1/4 tsp per serving) of white distilled vinegar. Pelemni are never fried or served in broth (at least not in my family ;)
Vareniki is a Ukranian dish (similar to Polish pierogies). They can be filled with potatoes, farmer's cheese, braised cabbage, mushrooms, and berries for dessert. They are boiled just like pelmeni (about 3 minutes after they float), then drained. Savory vareniki can be served like pelmeni (minus the vinegar), or pan fried in butter until slightly crisp on both sides (I usually do it on medium heat in a cast iron or non-stick pan). That's the yummiest way to eat them. Sauces are not usually served with vareniki, but a mixture of caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms makes a wonderful topping. Oh, and you always top them with sour-cream. Berry vareniki are topped with sour cream and sprinkled with sugar.
Keep in mind that these dishes are best when made at home, and frozen pelemni or vareniki sold in Russian stores are not the best versions of these dishes.
re: A Fish Called Wanda
Good description of pelmeni. I have a very good friend who came to the US from Russia around the time the Soviet Union was breaking up - she's since become a citizen. We had a pelmeni-making marathon a while back, and she likes to eat hers with a mixture of ketchup and warm water (about half and half). Bletch (but the pelmeni were good).