22 July 2008

The World Turned Upside Down: Notes on Culinary Difference

After a year of seeking out Asian produce and condiments in Moscow (sriracha, fish sauce, tofu, a good green curry paste, etc.), now what am I resorting to when I look for a nice package of frozen pelmeni and salat po-koreiski?

Oh, culinary gods, the games you play with my palate.

At least lizzie b has pointed me to the yulinkacooks blog to give me some ideas about how to survive.

And does anyone know of a good place to find a decent cheburek in this town? Seriously.


tamasha said...

I know nothing, but have you tried the Brighton Beach area?

Also, are those dumplings any good?

kg said...

The dumplings make sense, but much as I love kim chee, it doesn't strike me as resembling in any way, shape, or form the salat po-koreiski one gets here - at least the stuff I've gotten... The "po-koreiski" label seems to be applied pretty liberally around here - which variety did you have in mind?
Also, kitchen god that you are, how hard can it be to deep-fry some dough stuffed with unidentifiable meat? ;)

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

T, Tried Brighton Beach, but no luck on the cheburek score. And just for you, I just boiled up some of those pork and cabbage dumplings for brunch. Supposedly spicy, but I had to add a good splash of soy sauce and red chili flakes to liven them up. I was almost tempted to put smetana (Russian sour cream) on them, but I feared crossing the streams.

kg, it certainly does not come close to salat po-koreiski--hence my discontent. The stuff I had in mind is the sweet and sour and mildly spicy mix of cabbage and carrots I used to get at the gastronom around the corner from my building (Almy). And as for homemade chebureki, the problems are as follows: (a) how do I get that special mix of farsh here? (b) what do I do once I actually know for certain how much butter, lard and other fats go into each one of those? (c) who do I chat with while deciding which kind of cheburek looks the freshest?

Anonymous said...

A food blogger recommends Ludmila's Home Made Food, aka Russian Style Ravioli (813 Avenue U, between East 8th & 9th Sts, Brooklyn NY; 718-787-0120) for chebureki. (Can't vouch for this of course.)

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

Rootless! Thanks for this lead. Everyone can expect a report soon, even though Lyuda decided to put her place smack in the middle of ain't-no-subway-line-too-close-to-me-land.

But this description from chowhound has me sold:

"Chebureks are miraculous. This was the sole item I've not tried before, so I can't say with confidence where the chef's brilliance ends and intrinsic cheburek brilliance begins. Anyway, this item from the Caucasus is a large half-circle fried empanada/turnover, stuffed with meat and vegetables and drenched in buttery/garlicky gravy. I feared a heavy, squalid burden. The cheburek itself looks unappealing, flatly brown and unflaky. It's mammothly heavy looking, and drenched to the point of almost total sog. But though it is indeed heavy and sodden, it's good enough to induce moaning. Like a steak, it's substantial but deeply rewarding. The butter sauce is not merely a sloppy cholesterol bomb, it's a lovely well-balanced counterpart to the pastry. The garlic is more aromatic than fierce. And I can't say what the cheburek itself tasted like because the gestalt made it unanalyzable. One is hypnotized into consumption, and cannot pause to consider until long after the last bite is gone. My mind was not part of the process. Cheburek is mystery."


Anonymous said...

Every food culture I know of has a verson of dough-stuffed-with-things-and-boiled/fried/baked. Lately I've been making pizzelle, a yeast dough, filled with a mix of pork sausage, garlic, and steamed greens (escarole, chad, spianch, whatever), brushed with egg, sprinkled with sea salt (crunchy) and baked. (Hat tip: Lidia Bastianich.) Addictive.

sarahdorothy said...

I have been reading Steinbeck's Russian Journal and a surprisingly portion of the book is dedicated to describing what he eats: "In the morning, when breakfast came to our room, we thought some major insanity had taken place. Breakfast consisted of tomato salad, pickles, watermelon, and cream soda. But it was not an insanity, it was just a normal Stalingrad breakfast." It sounds like you were eating better than Steinbeck.