From the Russian Far East to your plate – savor the taste of Soviet-era dumplings in a pot.Olga Brovkina
Celebrated in song and often stirring up unforgettable memories among people who rode on the Soviet railway system, these delightful dumplings in a pot are still the topic of heated debates regarding their origin. To try to put this contentious issue to rest, let’s embark on a journey through time to uncover the history of this dish.
While the name "Amur" implies a connection to the great Amur River in the Far East, the origins of these dumplings are shrouded in mystery. In Soviet times, various restaurants in the Far East gave these dumplings different names, such as "Ermak" (a conqueror of Siberia), "Central" (in honor of a restaurant in Khabarovsk), "Birobidzhan" (center of the Jewish Autonomous Region), and "Irtysh" (in honor of another river that flows through Russia, Kazakhstan and China).
Yet a fascinating tale leads us to the town of Belogorsk in the Amur Region where the early 1960s saw the emergence of "Amur dumplings” in the local railway station restaurant. Locals say that chef Lyubov Vovchok created these dumplings during a professional development competition using leftover ingredients. Impressed by the dumpling’s intense flavors, the jury's approval set the stage for its inclusion on restaurant menus. Apparently after that similar dumplings appeared in many railroad restaurants along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
These dumplings are so loved by Russians that they became the subject of a song. The bard Alexander Kovalev from Khabarovsk was inspired to compose "Central Dumplings" - an ode to 13 tantalizing moments, in reference to the number of dumplings per serving.
In the past, Far Eastern delicacies, such as fern and lingonberries, could be added to the dish, but today we will do without them. These juicy dumplings, which are made with beef liver in a pot and covered with a tortilla, are a remarkable culinary experience.
Filling for the dumplings:
Dough for the dumplings:
Filling for the pot:
1. Prepare the dough: in a bowl add boiling hot water to the flour; then add salt and oil. Knead the dough until it acquires a smooth consistency. Let the dough sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the dumplings filling.
3. Cook the dumplings. Roll out the dough on a flour-sprinkled surface with a rolling pin into a thin layer. Using a glass, cut the dough into identical small circles. Knead each circle with your fingers; place the filling in the middle, pinch the edges, and join together.
4. I used a dumpling maker form to speed up the process.
5. Boil the homemade dumplings until they’re half-cooked. When they rise to the surface, allow them to boil for an additional 3 minutes before removing them from the pan.
6. Prepare the filling for the pot: cut the fresh beef liver into small pieces.
7. Lightly fry the liver with a small amount of vegetable oil.
8. Cut the onion. Then in a separate pan, saute the chopped onion in butter until it becomes translucent and slightly caramelized.
9. Assemble the dish: in a clay pot, put the cooked beef liver, the layer of sauteed onions, and then add the partially cooked dumplings.
10. Prepare the sauce: in a separate bowl, mix sour cream with flour until well combined. Add beef broth and tomato paste, creating a smooth and creamy sauce.
11. Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the clay pot, making sure that it covers them evenly.
12. Seal with tortilla: to seal the pot, make a tortilla by mixing flour, a fresh egg, and water in a bowl. Roll out the tortilla to cover the pot and brush it with beaten egg.
13. Preheat your oven to 160°C. Place the sealed clay pot with the assembled dumplings inside and bake until they’re fully cooked and the tortilla becomes golden brown.
14. Enjoy your meal!
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