My husband is not a cook. He will however, if asked, make a dish or meal without hesitation and often rather enthusiastically. What typically happens is he returns from a trip to the grocery store with a vast assortment of condiments and pickled products and, if we are lucky, the complete ingredients for whatever recipe he decided to tackle that day.
My husband is an attorney, he is not easily intimidated, thus time-consuming recipes or endless lists of ingredients are not a concern. He embraces a challenge and is fairly patient. He may need to work a bit on his timing however (the art of getting more than one dish on the table at once), but his overall effort and determination is impressive, especially for a non-cook. The result of all this can be fantastic, like his kreplach, or a fried Jewish dumpling.
Neal’s kreplach is not entirely traditional; but he’s Jewish, so the love and history is there automatically. He did not grow up eating this and his recipe is not exactly healthy. But it is tasty. Our boys love his kreplach, and I am a big fan as well. Making this recipe fully from scratch takes a bit of commitment; but the use of store-bought wonton wrappers reduces the time substantially. You can also assemble these in advance, refrigerate them, and cook them later–which is often what I do.
Traditionally, kreplach, is a type a small Jewish dumplings filled with ground meat, mashed potatoes or another filling. They are typically boiled and served in chicken soup, though they can also be fried. There are various ideas about the meaning of the word “kreplach.”
Some believe the name comes from the initials of three Jewish festivals: “K” for Kippur, “R” for Rabbi, and “P” for Purim, which together forms the word Krep. “Lach” comes from Yiddish, meaning “little”. Another suggestion is that the word comes from the German word “Krepp”, meaning “crepe”. Kreplach also caries with it a considerable amount of symbolism; it’s triangular shape it said to represent Judaism’s three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Historically, kreplach is served during a number of Jewish holidays: (1) Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year; (2) at the pre-fast meal before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; and (3) on Purim, a Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jews being saved from Haman, who was planning to kill them.
A variety with a sweet cheese filling is sometimes served on Shavuot, a holiday that marks the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Fried kreplach (similar to what my husband makes) is popular on Chanukah (or Hanukkah as some say) commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, because the kreplach are fried in oil, which references the oil in the miracle of Chanukah.
History aside, my husband’s kreplach is delicious mainly for it’s simplicity. There is a fried outer wrapper, and a simple seasoned meat filling. My family eats them as is. Depending on the filling, I have seen some top kreplach with sour cream or applesauce. But really nothing else is needed.
Recipe: Neal's Kreplach
- 1 pound organic ground beef (I prefer grass-fed)
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1/2 bunch parsley, cleaned & finely chopped
- 1 12 ounce package of wonton wrappers
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 egg, whole
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to season after cooking
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
- 1 egg lightly beaten, for egg wash
- Step 1 Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
- Step 2 When hot, but not smoking, add the onion and sauté till tender and beginning to brown. Place the cooked onions in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
- Step 3 Place the sauté pan back on the heat and add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the ground meat and brown, stirring occasionally.
- Step 4 Using a small strainer, strain the cooked meat and add to the onions. Let the mixture cool slightly.
- Step 5 Once cool, add the egg, chopped parsley and salt. Mix well to blend and set aside.
- Step 6 Set up your work station. Make your egg wash. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease so the kreplach won’t stick.
- Step 7 Working with a few at a time, place the wonton wrappers on the cutting board. Using a pastry brush, outline all edges of the wonton wrapper with egg wash.
- Step 8 Place about 1 tablespoon of the ground meat mixture in the center of the wrapper.
- Step 9 Fold the wrapper into a triangle. Gently pick up the kreplach holding the point of the triangle upward, and using your fingers, gently press the sides of the wonton firmly together to create a seal around the filling. This will take patience to do well. Add as much egg wash as needed to seal the kreplach completely.
- Step 10 Place the kreplachs on the prepared sheet tray and repeat until all the filling has been used. The kreplach can be stored at this point and cooked later if desired, just wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate so they don’t dry out.
- Step 11 To cook the kreplach, place a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil.
- Step 12 When the oil is hot, add one kreplach to test. If it starts to sizzle a bit around the edges, go ahead and add a few more. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or they will stick together.
- Step 13 Watch closely. Rotate the kreplach and turn over during the cooking process. Depending on how hot your oil is, cook the kreplach approximately 3-4 minutes per side.
- Step 14 When the kreplach is evenly golden brown, carefully remove from the pan and drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Lightly salt the cooked kreplach. Repeat the above until all kreplach is cooked.
- Step 15 Kreplach is best served warm. You can heat in a 300 degree F oven for about 5 minutes right before serving if needed.