I was watching Anna Olson make pierogi on TV a few days ago and remember thinking, ‘Well, there’s something I’ve never heard of before!’ Fast forward to the other day and what do you know? I had five different kinds of pierogi arrive at my door. Five! The food universe conspires in mysterious and delightful ways.
Pierogi (plural for ‘pierog’) are Polish dumplings. A quick search online reveals that this “humble” staple is classically filled with meat, sauerkraut, mushroom, potato, and cheese. I say “humble” because things are a-changing and it seems if you can dream up a filling, you can put it in a pierogi. They can even be sweet – fillings made with berries are popular in the summer in Poland when they’re in season. It’s interesting to note that Christmas pierogi have to be vegetarian.
I would normally dive straight into the munching portion right about now but I must tell you about Babci Kuchnia and the wonderful story behind it because it will make these pierogi more delicious to the thousandth power.
The force behind Babci is the husband and wife team of Peter and Mia Pysk. Peter and Mia were the couple that made pierogi for their friends. (I need new friends.) They’d bring them to potluck parties. Eventually, friends started offering to pay for them. Even then, business wasn’t quite on the horizon for these two but Mia did see it as an opportunity to help household staff earn extra income and decided to teach them how to make pierogi. Meanwhile, Peter was on his way to winding down from his long stint in the hospitality industry around Australia and Asia.
With the ever-increasing popularity of the pierogi and Mia no longer involved, Peter found himself having to jump in to help with the orders. Maybe the stars aligned but his last post as Director of Food and Beverage at the Mandarin Oriental ended last October which allowed for him to get through the crazy holiday rush but even then, Peter says pierogi didn’t occur to him as a calling. It was while on vacation in January that he was convinced by family to share the joy of pierogi in Asia.
Peter has been professionalizing the operation since March but he says one thing will never change – Babci Kuchnia will stay true to why Mia started it all in the first place. It is Babci’s goal to help every employee (who has to be referred by another) succeed so they can ultimately bring their families to the city and live together. And that, dear reader, is what you’re supporting every time you place an order at Babci Kuchnia.
Not that these pierogi need to appeal to your charity for you to whip some up, no. They’re absolutely delicious! Shall we make some?
How to prepare frozen pierogi? Boil some water and add a splash of oil into the pot to prevent the pierogi from sticking together. Drop frozen pierogi (Do not defrost!) and cook for 5-7 minutes.
They’re good to go boiled but I prefer them fried because I prefer everything fried. So I took my boiled and drained ones straight to a warmed pan with some canola oil. I’m glad I did. The chewy and crunchy dough was a great backdrop to all the delicious flavors they were holding inside.
Aside from the filling, I think what distinguishes pierogi from other dumplings is that they’re eaten with sour cream. These ones also came with caramelized onions and fried bacon bits that I just had to heat up to serve.
And with five different kinds to prepare, it was a lot of excited boiling and frying. So come on homie, lemme take you inside the pierogi.
Beef & Sauerkraut (P350/half dozen, P500/dozen)
If you’ve ever had sauerkraut, you’d know to expect a tang with the well-seasoned beef. The sour cream does a really nice job of rounding out the flavors with this one.
Potato & Cheese (P300/half dozen, P480/dozen)
The creamy and smooth potato and cheese filling really benefits from the onions and bacon but it’s a tad rich with the sour cream. Not that I mind rich all that much. The potato and cheese combo is pure comfort.
Cabbage, Mushrooms & Truffle Oil (P350/half dozen, P500/dozen)
I sliced into one of these and the truffle oil perfumed the air for a bit. If I were to have pierogi for Christmas, I would have these.
Beef, Vegetable & Cheese (P300/half dozen, P480/dozen)
This filling reminded me of carnitas so perhaps there’s some spicing going on here. I’m a fan of bold flavors so it was all good in the ‘hood. And with all the condiments combined, these were super flavorful.
Cheese & Rum Raisin with Rum Butter Sauce (P300/half dozen, P480/dozen)
I fried these sweet pierogi in butter instead. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to have them with sour cream too but I left it out and went with just the rum butter sauce.
While we’re finishing things off on a sweet note, I wanna show you the pierniki which is a traditional spiced cookie. Yes, there are other things on the Babci menu like a Polish sausage and traditional stew. Anyway, look at them pierniki. So pretty!
And even when the box is closed, you can get a whiff of what I think is clove. I took a bite and it tasted like Christmas. Like if fruitcake were a cookie. (I’m not even gonna suggest this as a Christmas gift idea and turn this into a Christmas post. No. It’s only August. STOP IT.)
Below the crunchy layer of icing is a soft and chewy cookie that the Internet tells me is a ginger cookie. They’re filled with something like jam so they’re very sweet but strangely not off-putting. These would be so nice with strong black coffee or unsweetened tea!
So yeah. I’m stuffed but my heart is even fuller. The next time you’re at Salcedo or Legazpi weekend market, make sure to hit up Babci and order some pierogi. Get a sausage or twelve. And if Peter and Mia are around, give them a big hug.