The Pierogi That Was Not To Be

As you can see from the title, this blog post does NOT have a happy ending.

Ever since my lovely Yorkshire pudding showed up in the blog, I have been getting random comments that I have great potential and I should turn my blog into a cooking DIY blog. The truth is, I am a lousy cook. My culinary skills are restricted to the basics of the basics. I can only do simple stuff. And I do have a lot of failed attempts in making new dishes, which of course never made its way to the blog.

Some of my failures include trying to bake a pandan layer cake, a blackforest cake, as well as multiple tries on shepherd’s pie where the potato crust turned into potato charcoal piece, among many other things. This morning, I encountered another disaster, when I decided to make the national dish of Poland called Pierogi.


As usual, I will start with the background story. I will be honest that up until a few months ago, I know next to nothing about Poland. The only Polish thing or person that I know about is Arsenal’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

And then I was exposed to some Polish blogs a couple of months ago (in fact you can find a couple of them in my blog roll to the right of the page), and I read one particular post on eTramping about Polish cuisine. There was one particular food that caught my attention. You guessed it right, the pierogi.

It is funny, sometimes when you discovered a new word, you start to notice it everywhere you go. After reading that blog post, I begin to encounter this word “pierogi” quite frequently, it is haunting me like a persistent delicious-food ghost. Some of my encounters within a month:

  • I was driving along the road when I was back in KL, and I saw a banner on the sidewall with the words: “Get a taste of Poland, learn how to make Pierogi!”
  • My Listening test in IELTS, there was an audio clip of conversation between two person on their favorite food, and one of them said: “my girlfriend is from Poland, she makes this wonderful dumpling called pierogi…”
  • When I was looking for a suitable recipe to attempt the Yorkshire pudding, I came across a baking website called Butter Baking. Looked promising, so I start digging through the website. Could not find Yorkshire pudding there, but while searching I came across this:  http://www.butterbaking.com/2011/12/06/strawberry-dumplings-pierogi/
  • I was walking past the Japanese food section in the supermarket yesterday, there were a Caucasian couple staring at the packet of gyoza (Japanese dumpling) and I overheard the girl said: “this looks like those pierogi that we had in Warsaw last month!”

I was beginning to think that, maybe this is a sign from God. Since I am such a dumpling person (I’ve already tasted the local shui gao 水饺, Japanese gyoza, Italian ravioli), maybe God wants me to try the pierogi as well. And since there is no Polish restaurant in Penang, I should attempt to make them myself!

[Disclaimer: I’m not a Christian, in fact I’m an intellect Buddhist, when I said God I don’t mean it in Biblical terms. Don’t kill me for it]


Okay, time to cut to the chase. Since I have already “discovered” the recipe from that Butter Baking website, I decided to refer to that.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 500g Flour
  • 2 spoons of Butter
  • 2 eggs
  • A bit of milk

Filling

  • Strawberries
  • Honey

Procedure that went well:

  1. Mix all the dough ingredients into big bowl, and knead it until the dough forms. A good pierogi dough should be firm yet not sticky to the hand.
  2. Cut up the strawberries into small pieces. Since I have no sugar, I substitute with a spoon of honey.
  3. Roll the dough out until 3mm thick.
  4. Use a round cutter or whatever you can to cut out round shaped dough pieces.
Pierogi dough
Dough ingredients
Pierogi dough
Pierogi dough, so far so good
Pierogi filling
Strawberry filling for the pierogi
My round cutter
My round shaped cutter

 

Up till this stage, everything is going according to plan. And then…

Disaster starts:

I have the round dough pieces, I have the strawberry filling, what I did not have is a pair of delicate hands for the pierogi wrapping. I was not able to properly seal up the sides of the pierogi like how the picture shows. I ended up with a mess of strawberry juice on the floor, and ugly looking dumpling wraps that I dare not call pierogi yet.

And then, I put my ugly creations into the boiling pot of water, praying that they will rise to the surface as the recipe described.

That never happened. 30 seconds into the pot, all my poorly wrapped dumplings begin to open on the side. Then they started breaking apart and the pot of water soon became a sea of strawberry pieces.

So, instead of having pierogi, I was facing a pot of sweet strawberry soup with some dumpling skins. I was too upset to take anymore photos at this point.

In the end, I still ate that pile of mess after ensuring all the stuff are thoroughly cooked, but it was one of the most depressing brunch I’ve ever had.


So you see, I am not a talented cook or chef. I’m too lazy and not delicate enough when it comes to culinary skills, so I always end up making a mess of things. It’s just that I rarely display the messy failures in the blog 🙁 .

 

28 Comments

  1. It can be the problem with dough itself – to check it – make sure structure looks like the pasta dough. Dough should be about 2 mm thick. Gluing of both sides needs to be done carefully:
    – pick big enough piece of dough to get wide edge,
    – make edge 1 cm wide (a bit too long but it will do the trick)
    – no holes allowed
    – only clean dough should be glued together
    – press hard and make sure it sticks together
    – afterwards edge should look like single piece of dough (no dissection is allowed)

    See example pictures how to glue with style:
    http://kulinarnyporadnik.blogspot.com/2014/12/jak-adnie-skleic-pierogi-pierogi-z.html

  2. Keep trying. Sure it will get better.

    Happens to the best of us – even those who are good at something. There are good days and bad days and sometimes, what they cook may not be as great…good but not as good as usual.

    I have had my share of disasters – and I would just throw it all away and keep very quiet about it. Hehehehehehe!!!!

    • I usually do just that, throw everything away and shut up about it. But, I spent so much effort (relatively, compared to my other cooking), so I thought this embarrassment warrants some blog space 😛

  3. Ummm… even though it wasn’t a success… it still sounds DELICIOUS!!! You can’t really go wrong with strawberry soup and dumpling skin. In America, we just call that a cobbler. 🙂
    (Wait actually.. that is if it’s baked.. then it’s a cobbler.)

    • LOL! That’s a really positive spin to it! 😀
      It’s totally not cobbler! I’ve had an apple and peach cobbler once, it was so awesome slurppss!! Hmm.. maybe I should make that..

  4. Oh, you did not fail, tell yourself that.. I can assure you that well known chefs started with lots of mistakes and then only become successful in the long run… they must have wasted lots of kgs in the strawberries before it becomes perfect~! 🙂 So.. pat yourself on the shoulder.. and try again! If this consoles you, tell yourself that you are much better than reanaclaire at least! hahahaa…

  5. Haha I love that you tried making pierogi! I love that stuff! However, I love the meats ones which isn’t good now that I’ve decided to give up meat boooo. Pierogi definitely reminds me of Asian dumplings too!

    • I made the strawberry one because that’s the only recipe that I came across before yesterday. Not so sure if I will ever attempt the meat ones, I think with my clumsy wrapping skills, whatever fillings I use will be equally hopeless 🙁

  6. hehehe, never mind lah, i guess there are always time we failed in cooking or baking, which turned out to be a totally different disaster from what we have in mind.. i guess you will be able to make it one day, just keep trying and don’t give up.. 🙂

    • Why do you all keep asking me to keep trying? LOL! To be honest, I feel more likely that this will be my one and only attempt >.<

  7. Uikks, where’s the end product? Still can post and show us ma, hehe.. The first picture looks like making cream puff.. Coz we still need to stir water, flour and butter together until it forms a lump, just like your picture.. Try another time, and show us the end product k?

  8. ekhm… the only Polish person…. EKHM…. 😀
    it’s really hard to make sweet pierogi and they are not really popular. if you can find white cheese then make ‘ruskie’ 🙂 yum!

    • LOL 😀 .. Yeah, the videos in Youtube mostly show how to make with mashed potato and cheese filling. Maybe I’ll try that later.

  9. If you ask any cook, there are always failed attempts so don’t give up! Give it another go – this time maybe go for a savoury pierogi instead of using strawberries (I don’t even dare to buy fresh strawberries to eat due to their expensive price).

    • Don’t think it is due to the fillings, I think the problem is my wrapping skills. It’s something that needs lots of practice, not suitable for lazy man. I pick fruit filling because I’m too lazy to cook the other types of filling. Although I know making pierogi itself can hardly justify the word “lazy”.

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