May 8th, 2014
05:30 PM ET
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World-renowned chef, author and Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Russia in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, May 11, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

The current culinary landscape of Russia can been seen as a microcosm of the country's escalating tensions: Can the Soviet and contemporary era co-exist?

On one side, there are the "dino-era, Russian classics," as Anthony Bourdain couches them - like borscht, blinis, pickled herring and solyanka (a sweet and sour soup typically made with meat, sturgeon or mushrooms).

On the other, places like Yornik in Moscow and CoCoCo in St. Petersburg don't turn their back on the canonical dishes, but aren't afraid to take a few new risks.

In this episode of "Parts Unknown," Bourdain joins longtime friend, Moscow-born Zamir Gotta, to ponder criticisms of Russian President Vladimir Putin over something that eases the tension: vodka.

"When you're talking classic conspiracy theories and classically Russian-style paranoia, you want some classic Russian food to go along with it," Bourdain says.

Feed into the debate by making one such dish, an old-school kind of dumpling called pelmeni.

(Makes about 70-80 meat dumplings)
Reprinted with permission from "Home Cooking from Russia" by Ekaterina and Liudmila Bylinka

For the dough:
1 cup water
1 egg
Pinch of salt
3-4 cups flour, plus extra for dusting

For the filling:
1 pound ground pork and beef (equal parts)
1 onion, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

For cooking and garnishing:
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1/4-1/2 cup melted butter
Fresh parsley, chives or dill (chopped)
1 tablespoon sour cream per serving

Cooking Instructions
To make the dough: In a large bowl, mix together the water, egg and salt; add the flour and stir quickly. Transfer the mixture to a well-floured work area and knead it out to get a smooth dough ball. Let the dough sit for about 20-30 minutes under a big bowl or refrigerate in a plastic wrap. After that, knead again.

In a bowl, mix together the onion, garlic, salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 cup water. Add the ground meat (uncooked) and blend well. Set the filling aside.

Cut off a piece of the dough; roll it into a rope-like shape and cut into bite-size pieces. Put some flour on the work area and the dough pieces to avoid sticking. Press the pieces down gently. Using a rolling pin, flatten the pieces into small, thin discs - about 1 1/2-inch wide. Keep the dough discs covered under the bowl so it stays moist.

Using a fork, place a teaspoon of the filling on the center of each dough disc and fold into a half-moon shape. Pinch the edges of the half-moon together to seal.

Place them on a baking sheet or a big plate dusted with flour. (Pelmeni can either be cooked right away or frozen for later.)

In a pot, bring water to a boil with salt and pepper to taste and a bay leaf. Simmer pelmeni for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the dumplings and transfer them to a bowl; add the melted butter. Stir carefully. Serve immediately and garnish with some freshly chopped parsley, dill or chives, and some sour cream or hot spicy sauce if desired.

Previously on "Parts Unknown":
In Mexico, a complex cuisine for a complex country
In Lyon, a hearty serving of tradition
Las Vegas
10 things you didn't know about Las Vegas
7 sure bets for Las Vegas dining
Bourdain strikes vegetarian gold in Punjab
6 secrets of Punjab
The dog-eat-dog turf of Detroit's classic coneys
Tasting Tokyo's treasures
South Africa
Taste the Rainbow Nation
Sicilian food to soothe the soul
10 things to know before visiting Sicily
A sense of place in Copenhagen cuisine
New Mexico
In New Mexico, choose a side: red or green
Bourdain cops to mistake on Frito pie canned chili claim
10 things to know before visiting New Mexico
– Granada, Spain
Traditional tapas in Granada
11 things to know before visiting Spain
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
In Jerusalem, even food origins are contentious
10 things to know before visiting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Bourdain has traditional Palestinian meal
– Congo

SPAM and coq au vin on the Congo River
Peruvian food, from guinea pigs to pisco sours
Peruvian food is having a moment
Make perfect pisco sours and ceviche
South America's pisco enjoys North American revival
Breakfast in Libya
Where fast food tastes like freedom
iReport: In Morocco, eating is the spice of life
Street snacking in Morocco
O Canada! Our home and delicious land
Come for the strip bars, stay for the poutine
Colombian cuisine – from aguardiente to viche
Americans just don’t understand the potato. Colombians do.
Los Angeles Koreatown
The ever-changing flavor of L.A.'s Koreatown
Bridging generations and cultures, one blistering bowl of bibimbap at a time
Los Angeles food trucks are in it for the long haul
Fall in love with Myanmar's cuisine
In Myanmar, drink your tea and eat it too

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. JWolf

    Agree that Tony doesn't need to try to do politics. For example, critics of the administration in the US are not killed but can have their lives destroyed by targeting by the IRS, OSHA, EPA etc., so we do most of what Putin is doing.

    May 28, 2014 at 10:58 am |
  2. easterniron

    Love Bourdain when he talks food and travel. Can't stand it when he gets into his politics. For example, while he wanted to talk about free health care and his buddy basically set him straight, yes it is free if you want to wait months for care. Instead of talking about that he went on a rant about trickle down economics. Tony–I know you don't want to admit it, but when a person buys a yacht, his frivolous investment sets many jobs in motion. That is trickle down economics. Bottom up economics, sets in motion an unending class of dependency.

    May 14, 2014 at 8:23 am |
    • matt

      To re-establish context they are just out of Moscow, the city with the most billionaires per capita in the world. So let's say 10 billionaires buy yachts and yes that creates jobs, but does it create more jobs than 1,000 middle class workers buying boats? Because the argument is the billionaires become that way squeezing out strength from the middle class, buying bigger yachts while middle class workers can no longer afford any boat. In my opinion that is a net LOSS of jobs, and especially professional well paying jobs. I believe he was also calling into question the changes that have occurred in which cronyism has effected the Russian economy which he also detailed. I know this is a late response, but I was hoping to find the clip to show a friend, because it's really well said, and your comment was just very cliché and lacking, in my opinion

      August 9, 2014 at 10:45 pm |
  3. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    In Soviet Russia, Vodka makes YOU caviar

    May 12, 2014 at 8:51 am |
  4. sharknado

    talk about bad timing :)

    May 11, 2014 at 10:11 pm |
  5. Bob

    I'm in the wrong place, but just wanted to say how much I like the program on Russia tonight. (May 11). Glad he had the courage and wherewithal to interview who he did and got the things said that needed to be said.

    May 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
    • JC

      I always enjoy Bourdain's shows. He seems to get to the nitty gritty wherever he goes. This show on Russia was especially edgy in that it was done before Putin and his cronies spent over 80 billion dollars on the Sochi Winter Olympics, the people's money that is. It was obvious, from Bourdain's body language, that his less than admirable homage to his host country was colored by the frequent mention of Putin, a man who seems to be a cross between Napoleon, Stalin, and Nicolas II. It wouldn't surprise me if Putin showed up in an imperial Russian czarist's costume one day. I'm just glad Bourdain got out of Russia alive.

      May 11, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
  6. Thinking things through

    Now this, I'd try!!!

    May 11, 2014 at 8:48 am |
  7. LJ

    Sour cream?? No way. In our house we sprinkle them with vinegar mixed 50/50 with water. Other than that it sounds pretty much like my wife's recipe.

    May 11, 2014 at 7:58 am |
  8. m12

    bourdain rocks

    May 9, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
  9. JellyBean

    Reminds me of an empanada.

    May 9, 2014 at 8:31 am |
    • liz

      They are boiled and are small, like ravioli. Pelmenhi are nothing at all like empenadas.

      May 9, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
      • JellyBean

        if you say so...

        May 12, 2014 at 9:46 am |
  10. ∞ weeds ∞

    dim sum good, ya. more wadka if you please.
    My eclectic Russian friends in the US have introduced me to Russian eats, from street side to dishes meant for a czar. The food can be as memorable as honey coated wieners to dishes the most exquisite French chefs are clamoring to reproduce.

    May 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm |
    • JC

      I doubt the French would "clamor" over any Russian dish. However, the Russians are good at making dumplings, borsch, caviar, and cabbage rolls. And most any form. Anything else they probably borrowed from the French.

      May 11, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
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