In Siberia they always store the pelemeni outside in a snow bank. In Washington these Siberian wontons, as they are sometimes called, are kept in the freezer. Right now there are about 2,000 frozen solid here, waiting for Friday's opening of the annual bazaar at St. Mark Orthodox Church.
Pelemeni, (make all the "e's" long and put the accent on the second and fourth syllables) are a delicacy, if for no other reason than the patience needed to fill the two-inch circle of dough with a ground beef mixture and shape them into crescents whose ends are joined together in the center.
At a recent cook-in at the River Road church in Bethesda, all eyes were focused on Irene Pokorvsky and her two daughters, Larisa Looby and Lydia Kosar. Pokorvsky, born in Manchuria, taught her children how to make pelemeni. And as children, according to Mrs. Looby "We had to stand for hours making them and we hated it."
The other women who were preparing 500 stuffed cabbages, 1,000 pirogi (potato-filled dough that is boiled) and 1,000 piroshki (beef-or cabbage-filled dough that is baked) did not know how to make them. Nor did the priest. Father Basil, who was once a Protestant minister. All took turns but theirs often ended up with holes or misshapen. It takes a certain amount of practice.
The little "wontons" are served with the broth in which they have been cooked. Leftovers, browned in butter and kept warms in a chafing dish, according to Looby are wonderful at cocktail parties. Then they are served with hot mustard and soy sauce, but the strong flavors of those condiments seem to detract from the delicate flavor of the pelemeni.
The Russian delicacies will be served at the church. 7124 River Rd., or sold to take home. In addition to the foods already mentioned, there will be cheese blintzes, cabbage soup, borscht or beet soup, salads and desserts and Polish sausage, kielbasa, made by the men's club.
The bazaar is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. Saturday from 10 to 4 and Sunday from noon to 5. PELEMENI (Siberian Wontons) (About 180) Dough: 2 medium eggs 1/3 cup cold water 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
Mix eggs, water and salt with wire whisk or fork. Do not use an electric mixer. And the flour blend together. Turn out onto well floured pastry board and knead well until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying out.
Filling: 1 to 1 1/4 pounds twice-ground lean beef 2 tablespoons finely minced onion 1 teaspoon salt Dash pepper 1/2 cup of water
Mix all ingredients together.
Cut dough into narrow strips. Roll with hands into well-rounded strips about 1/4 inch in diameter (like a cigar). Cut off small pieces of dough, a little more than 1/4 inch thick. Dab them in flour on both cut ends. Roll into very thin circles, about 2 inches in diameter, with a floured rolling pin. Place 1/2 teaspoon or a little more of filling on circle. Fold in half: pinch edges well. Bring 2 points together to form a "sailor's cap." Pinch well to seal. Place completed pelemeni on tea towel on cookie sheet. When sheet is full, place it in the freezer until the pelemeni are rockhard. Then place in plastic bags and tie securely. Return to freezer and use as needed.
To cook: Drop pelemeni by small handsful into boiling beef stock or broth, making no more than two layers of them in the pot. Be sure there is enough liquid to cover them completely. Stir gently. When they rise to the top, count to 250 slowly if the pelemeni are frozen. If they have not been frozen, count to 200.Remove carefully from soup with slotted spoon. Place about 10 in each bowl and pour broth over. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve as first course, or as main course with buttered rye bread and a salad.