But first, is it varenyky or vareniki? Well, it depends. The Russian word, вареники, should be transliterated as vareniki. But since this is in fact a Ukrainian dish, it makes sense to transliterate the Ukrainian word instead. And the Ukrainian word is… вареники. Even if you can’t read Cyrillic, you probably noticed the two are spelled the same. But they’re not pronounced the same. The Ukrainian и is similar to the Russian ы, hence the transliteration with y’s. Big deal.
King crab, caviar and vodka: are there any ingredients that better exemplify haute Russian cuisine? I served this dish as a first course on New Year’s Eve. Enjoy with champagne (just not necessarily the Soviet kind)!
For the pasta dough, I am using a modified version of Gordon Ramsay’s dough recipe. Stay away from dough recipes that skimp on the eggs, as they usually give tougher, inferior results. Note that the dough and the vodka cream discs yield more servings than the rest of the recipe because they’re hard to scale down.
You can get everything up to the assembly section ready several hours in advance, but I really recommend making all the elements on the day you plan to eat them.
Vodka cream discs
Yields 8 servings
8 oz heavy cream
1 tsp gelatin
1/2 tsp sugar
1 oz vodka
- Combine 1/4 of the heavy cream with the gelatin and sugar in a small container. Microwave for about 45 seconds or until boiling, then mix well and reserve.
- Whip the rest of the heavy cream to soft peaks. Stir the vodka into the gelatin mixture, then pour into the whipped cream with the mixer still on. Stop mixing.
- Pour into 2 1/2″ diameter silicon molds (the exact size and shape of the mold isn’t too important), cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Yields over 8 servings
9 1/2 oz flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp olive oil
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, place half of the flour, plus the salt, egg, egg yolks and olive oil. Mix over low speed until homogeneous, scraping down the sides with a spatula. Add the rest of the flour and mix again until it forms a smooth paste. Transfer to a floured surface, and knead with your hand for about 3 minutes. Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
King crab fabrication
Yields 4 servings
1 lb whole cooked king crab legs
- Cut the shell using scissors. Take out the flesh and remove the cartilage. Reserve the meat for ravioli filling. Reserve the shells, cartilage and liquid for cooking the pasta.
King crab ravioli
Yields 4 servings (12 ravioli)
9 oz king crab meat without shell or cartilage
1/4 tsp piment d’espelette
4 thyme sprigs, stems removed
2 tsp finely chopped parsley
1 tsp orange juice
1 egg yolk
- In a blender, process 1/3 of the crab meat with the egg and the piment d’espelette to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the crab by shredding it into small pieces between your fingers. Add the thyme, parsley, and orange juice, and mix well.
- Using a pasta machine, roll the dough to the finest setting. Cut 24 discs using a 3 1/2″ cutter. Mix the egg yolk with 1 tbsp water to make an egg wash. Brush two discs with the egg wash. Place a ball of crab stuffing in the center of the first disc, cover with the second one, and seal the edges with your fingers, removing any air pockets. Repeat with the rest of the pasta discs.
Yields 4 servings
king crab shells, cartilage and liquid
king crab ravioli
2 oz butter
vodka cream discs
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 oz caviar
- Place the crab shells, cartilage and liquid into a pot, fill with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Pass the resulting crab stock through a chinois, return to the pot, add salt and bring to a boil. Cook the ravioli for a few minutes, until soft. Using a skimmer, transfer the ravioli to a bowl containing the butter. Do not drain the ravioli excessively, as some cooking liquid must remain to emulsify the butter.
- Arrange the ravioli and the unmolded vodka cream discs on the plates. Top the cream discs with a spoonful of caviar and sprinkle the ravioli with parsley.