It’s not going to be spicy this time. It’s going to be tasteful and with lots of memories.
The reason for that is simple: dumplings are today’s main theme. Simple and ordinary, weird and noble. We could obviously say that dumplings, called pierogi in Poland, are our culinary tradition. They’ve actually been one for some time, but it’s not that simple.
The story dates back to the 13th century. The secret recipe for Polish dumplings was passed by St. Hyacinth, a famous monk working in Poland and Ruthenia. It’s our history, but – as with most interesting dishes – dumplings have their roots in China. But I’m not going to elaborate on the eastern story out of many reasons. First of all, the dumplings we call ruskie (which in Polish means “Ruthenian” but is also used as a bit pejorative word for “Russian”) seem rather politically incorrect now. Secondly, the label “made in China” is not really a sign of top quality. Enough of history.
As far as I’m concerned, all kinds of dumplings are delightful. But I have one problem: I’m not really able to say which stuffing is the best one.
When I was a child, I loved especially fruit fillings: with strawberries or plums and cream. But I kept growing up, and my next dumpling love was for stuffing made of buckwheat groats and cottage cheese. I remember the taste of such dumplings prepared by my grandma vividly. I know people who sniffed at the very thought of them. But after the first bite, they admitted they were the best dumplings they had ever tried. Now I’m absolutely fascinated by the taste of goose. Dumplings stuffed with goose and smoked plums cooked in red wine are the essence of our pierogi.
And they’re quite easy to make. You naturally have to knead the dough. What you need are just several ingredients, that is flour and warm water with a bit of salt. More mannered ones can also add a little of clarified butter. Rub salt into a whole goose or its pieces and roast it until it falls apart. Mince the meat with melted fat and plums. Season to taste and start rolling up the dough. And now the well-known procedure. Put the stuffing in the centre of each dough circle and boil the dumplings in salted water.
Boiled dumplings are definitely the best ones, especially with melted butter and watercress. They taste heavenly, I assure you. Simple and delicious.
But I take my hat off to Asian dumplings as well. Steamed Chinese wontons stuffed with pork and shrimps or fried Japanese jiaozi with pork and cabbage.
And what can Italians say on the matter?
Actually, they can say a lot. They adapted the recipe for dumplings, made them smaller and started serving them instead of pasta. And this is how ravioli and tortellini were made. Ravioli have the shape of small squares with serrated edges, and they’re often stuffed with cheese, meat or spinach. Tortellini are small dumplings with similar stuffing to ravioli, but they resemble dumpling strips formed into rings.
Coming back to our country, as Aleksander Brückner stated in his etymological dictionary: “the only remains of the proto-Slavic word pir, meaning ‘feast’ or ‘banquet’ (…), which means a type of ritual dough”.
So let’s feast every day. Let new types of stuffing and filling and ways of serving dumplings change our whole attitude to them. But remember about tradition. Have lots of fun, but never lose your head. After all, dumplings are Poles’ national pride and culinary showpiece.
goose, smoked plums, red wine, flour, water, salt, clarified butter
Material provided by Anywhere.pl