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36 responses to “Pelmeni and the Eating of Bears”

  1. matt

    Interesting stuff indeed! I remember reading somewhere about trichinosis in bears, and that turned me off the idea a bit. The dumplings look fantastic mate – love the idea of sour cream with them, and in broth I bet they would be fantastic too.

    What are your plans for the bear meat?

  2. Veterans Day Mendocino Black Bear | Cork's Outdoors

    […] Upcoming Hank Shaw Bear Recipe: For an excellent recipe from friend and food writer, Hank Shaw, who I gave a sampling of frozen meat from this bear at our pheasant opener last Saturday, check out his bear pelmeni recipe: Hunter Angler Gardner Cook.         […]

  3. Cork@Cork'sOutdoors

    Makes me want to get a bunch of new books, Hank–great take on American tastes and bear!

    Winnie the Pooh and the Teddy Bear did it for me. But, once I tasted bear for the first time, and considering how much the CA bear population has exploded, even taking over ancient brown bear areas, I can’t get enough!

    On the topic of meat care, you betcha! I had that bear gutted within 15 minutes of the kill, and skinned within an hour, and its quarters cool to the touch within two hours of the shot. If everyone treated their game like a fine butcher treats a freshly killed steer, game table horror stories would be a thing of the past!

  4. Rachel @ Dog Island Farm

    Those look delicious. I can understand that ambivalence towards eating bear. I’m not quite sure what it is. Maybe people saying that it’s not very good? Maybe the fact that they do eat meat, but then so do pigs and I’m not against eating them. Who knows?

  5. Tom

    I have nothing against eating bear from a sentimental standpoint, but my dad always warned against it, saying the meat was oily. I take it this wasn’t the case for you! I suppose it depends on the bear and the cook.

  6. Janis

    I have had bear before. It was when I was a teenager and my then boyfriend went Moose and Bear hunting. The Moose I don’t remember eating but the bear I do. I don’t think I liked it but then again my taste over decades have matured. I do have to say that reading Cork Graham’s Bear Bourginon recipe really hit my funny bone. I now want to try that recipe. Anyone know where I can get a few pounds of Bear stew meat? :—)

  7. Bbq Dude

    My only rule for meat is that I won’t eat anything that’s endangered. I don’t want to contribute to the end of a species. So I wouldn’t eat polar bear, but black bear, no problem. To that end, I’ve enjoyed a dog soup in South Korea.

    All meat is meat. Including dogs:

  8. Zach

    Wow, you really did your homework on that dish. I have family from Khabarovsk, so I’ve had the pleasure of making these a couple times. Though your dough isn’t like what I’ve experienced, I can see why you chose do do it that way.

    I made the mistake once of claiming that the dough was similar to a Chinese potsticker, to which I was met with a scowl and told that it was certainly not!! Apparently the Southern Siberian Russians have had some bad territorial disputes with the Chinese. Whoops!

    I’ve never had pelmeni in broth, so maybe you’re right about the “poor taste” comment? But, I can certainly attest that mayonnaise and/or butter were always present.

  9. kate@livingthefrugallife

    I’ve eaten a lot of pelmenyi in the place that claims them as their own: Udmurtia, just on the European side of the Urals. Never, ever heard that they’d been made with bear once upon a time. Did hear that the filling should be nothing but meat and raw onion. Not that I can state for sure that the Udmurts didn’t once make them with bear. I did get the chance to make some from scratch while I was there. The dough was not like eggy pasta sheets. There was one egg, but mixed with a fair bit of water into the flour. These days they like a mixture of beef and pork for the filling. I only ever had them served boiled, with either smetana (infinitely better than our sour cream) or vinegar, the latter of which was fun because of the pronunciation in Russian: “SOOK-soos-am.” I preferred them with smetana. Some people put chopped scallions on top too. Lots of people over there buy 50-pound bags of pelmenyi and leave them out on their balconies all through the Russian winter. Zero chance of spoilage.

  10. Kevin

    Nice. I’ve still never tried the stuff, although the guys that take me hunting have as the odd one has made a move into their moose camp over the years. I do want to give it a go. That and cougar, which apparently yields wicked lard for pastry dough.

  11. Delights and Prejudices » News Feed: November 22

    […] Bear as an alternative to pork or lamb. [Hunter Angler Gardener Cook] // […]

  12. Dani

    This is a fabulous alternative to my usual bear stew. Will have to try. Thanks!

  13. Sylvie in Rappahannock

    I thought freezing meat for several days at 0F would kill the larval worms too. You did not mentioned that in your post, and that made me curious. So of course I “googled”. Apparently freezing only works for pork, not other meat, as the Trichinella in game meat is much more resistant to freezing. Now I know if my husband comes back with bear (season started today) – freezing not good enough!

  14. Lowrah

    Everest on Grand is a wonderful restaurant, and I’m wondering if it is the one you are referring to. The yak momos are really good!

  15. E. Nassar

    Well, Hank, I have no sentimental attachement to bears, but I have to admit the idea of eating one grosses me out a bit. I cannot explain it. Now, if I was invited to your house and you cooked those dumplings, then I’d be happy to try them. I’m just not going to seek one out I guess. Same is true of racoon, armadillo, beaver, I’m just not eating them if I have a choice. They had several of these on a few months back actually and racoon and beaver just did not seem that appetizing to put it mildly.

  16. Nate

    Having hunted black bear in northern NH once before, I can tell you that it is pure adrenaline with a good deal of fear and apprehension folded in. You are in their element. Kind of like surfing in shark-infested waters. They know you are there. They can smell you. They know their environment well, and every sound or smell will spook them. I spent 20 hours in a bear stand and never pulled a trigger. I can’t wait to get back up there and try it again.

    There is not much better meat grilled than black bear. It is every bit as good as sirloin steak tips. I tried it a few years ago at a wild game dinner while at a decoy show in Jersey. Darn tasty critter! The meat we had was marinated for two days in a smoky wild berry chipotle sauce. Man was it good.


  17. Rohan

    We have a weird similar thing here in Australia with Kangaroos. But the truth of the matter is that Kangaroo have a minimal impact on the environment compared to introduced sheep and cattle and the meat is on of the leanest red meats available. It’s because they are cute and bouncy. But they have been providing a regular source of meat for Aborigines for 40,000+ years. So what’s changed?

  18. Greg

    Living in a place that has a larger brown bear population than people (SE Alaska), I tend to be on the side of not eating bears, with the idea that they’ll see me as “friendly” and return the favor.

    With black and brown bears in the neighborhood many folks hunt brownies just for sport/trophy and do not utilize the meat (I’ve heard reasons ranging from “too fishy” to too much “trichinosis”, if that is possible….), while black bears usually end up as sausage or roast. Love the recipe above, as well as the historical texts researched for ideas.

  19. A Beer Consensus | Make Mine Potato

    […] there is some form of consensus regarding online food writing, it should be that the author of Hunter Angler Gardner Cook is among the best writers we have.  Tales of eating wild duck foie gras or even bear dumplings are […]

  20. IF

    Your dumplings look much too pretty to be pelmeni! My favorite are khinkali though. Larger in size and better spiced. I’ve never heard of bear meat filling before either, but I stand corrected. A restaurant in Berlin offers them with bear
    Your choice of moose, reindeer or boar as well. (Despite the name they seem to exist: )
    I miss meat choices in German restaurants. Lots of game, sometimes provided by a local hunter, but often farmed I think. Not everyone should need to get a gun and buy a tag just to sample a new kind of meat!

  21. Julia Child’s “Ours Bourgignon” (Bear Bourguignon) | Cork's Outdoors

    […] Hank Shaw’s Pelmeni Recipe made with black bear […]

  22. Sirena

    I definitely respect your right to eat bear meat, game in general, etc…. and respect the longtime history of killing bears for the sustenance they provide! However, some strange longheld aversion must be at play for me regarding bear meat. Somehow, I just feel differently about bear and horse, than about pig and cow. I suspect that pushing myself on this front might cause me to actually give up pork and beef, not swing out more in the other direction.
    But I can’t wait to try the dumplings – with perhaps a different (tentatively onion and cheese) filling!
    And, I loved the history you provided too though -fascinating.

  23. Peter Arnold

    I have eaten bear only once and that over 60 years ago, one my boss shot as it was trying to wrestle a sow out of her pen on a ranch east of Redding. Can’t rmember how it tasted except that it had a sweeter flavor than usual meats.

    In the biography my grandmother wrote about my grandfather William Kent, who was a very avid hunter and outdoorsman, she mentions that he always kept bear fat for cooking because it could be heated far beyond other fats without flaming.

  24. California Bear Hunters: Time To Speak Up « Nativehunt Blog

    […] a bear yet, but a friend of ours did last fall, and he shared some of the meat with us. These bear pelmeni that Hank made with the meat were […]

  25. Online Hunting Community | Blog | California Bear Hunters: Time To Speak Up

    […] a bear yet, but a friend of ours did last fall, and he shared some of the meat with us. These bear pelmeni that Hank made with the meat were […]

  26. Cambodian Honey Bear Steaks | Cork's Outdoors

    […] · Hank Shaw’s Bear Pelmeni […]

  27. Brian Joubert

    Nothing wrong with bear!

    The two spring hunted bears I have eaten here in Alberta were very good. In fact after hearing how bad it could be I found the meat to have less taste than deer. Most of my non-hunting friends relish it and I have made them umpteen bear meatballs and burgers. I have also used it quite a bit in Bolognaise and Vindaloo.

    I normally grind it, only because even in a slow-cooked Vindloo I cant seem to get it tender – its always tough.

    However, edible it certainly is (I have heard coastal bears in the fall that eat salmon, can be foul tasting).

  28. Greg

    Very Interesting. Like the idea of the dish, perhaps with boar or venison. I’m afraid I’m a sentimental Brit, so I can’t quite get my head around bear or even dog meat. Additional to that, possibly a little difficult to get my mits on some bear. Look forward to more of the russian bear recipes, that I perhaps can try with what I do have available…..( though I do have to dispute the plar bear as the worst land born maneater, plenty more deaths due to lion attacks in Africa per annum, many perhaps going unreported….)

  29. S. Hudgins

    You say that traditionally Siberian pelmeni are made with sourdough. I have lived in Siberia and done food research there—and I’ve never seen pelmeni made with sourdough. Could you please tell me where you got that information? I am currently doing research on pelmeni and would like to know more about the sourdough angle. Thanks!

  30. jennie

    I loved reading your piece after just having had pelmini filled with bear and elk in a small restaurant just outside the Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Bear not being a native animal to my home country the thought of Winny just quickly came up but as you stated: all meat is meat.
    They served it without the broth (optional) but it came with a delicious sour cream/ butter mix and some chives. The meat was fleshy and very tasty and the whole meal was finger licking good.

  31. Milla Akimova

    I’m Russian, and my great-grandmother was from Siberia, and she made pelmeni with moose meat, dill, onions and bone marrow from the moose. I do the same with wild fallow meat and marrow, which is similar. For the dough, I just use my sourdough starter; I like to keep my whey for souring grains for porridge, or making pickled herring. 🙂

  32. Michael Q (@Epicuranoid)

    Very cool, I’m very interested in hearing more about bear, awaiting bacon post 🙂 I’ve had whole cuts several times and also found it sweet, but not in a delicious way, yet not unpalatable either. I just haven’t had whole cuts cooked properly, I think.

    A friend of mine thought the roast resembled brisket too, so he did a slow smoke and that didn’t turn out so well, very tough and sweet.

    The best bear I’ve eaten has been sausage and burger. I’m pretty sure both were mixed with pork and both were delicious.

    I’m not ready to make 250 pounds of dumplings, sausage & burger, so I won’t be hunting ME black bear yet, but you’re getting me closer, thanks.

  33. Kelly

    I’ve been looking for cookbooks that give odd recipes for bear, such as making stock with bear and using the intestines, liver, heart, etc… Do you have any favorites other than what you listed?

  34. mike

    I think Either fear or respect is inherent in any interaction with bears, whether it’s observation, hunting, or just living around bears in general and you pretty much end up having people subscribe to one or the other…. Either fear… or respect…its pretty hard to just ignore bears.

    When it comes to hunting/eating bears, you end up with folks that either kill them out of fear (often under the cover of wanting a trophy) or ones that kill them with respect and with the lure of either excellent meat (depending on the season) and/or functional hides that have been used for survival/religious reasons by so many cultures.

    I was lucky enough to live for 6 years in Aniak, AK and had the fortune to catch a perfect sized and perfectly timed black bear. It was late spring and he was full of nothing but grass and berries. It was probably one of the tastiest things I have ever shot… much better than any moose I have eaten.

    I also had the fortune of learning about local cultural practices from people that I respected. One person that ended up making a significant impression on me told me a story or a version of a story about bears and their importance in hunting as a whole. This story involved (I guess I would say) spiritual beings that resided in the local hills that ultimately were the ones that decided how much game to release from the hills to be used by people and who based that decision on how respectful people were to the animals that they took. Bears being the animal that they are, can really put to test ones hunting philosophies/ethics (for the reasons I mentioned above about fear and respect) and so bears were the ones that these beings put their ultimate faith into when listening to reports of how respectful hunters were.

    And so after I took whatever I could from the bear that I shot alongside the longest free flowing river in the United States (the Kuskokwim River), even though that once powerful skull would have been an excellent keep sake for memories of those days, I did as instructed by this individual.

    We took the skull by boat up river to a place where there was nothing but tundra and open land between us and the mountains, where the ones that judge our respect for hunted animals reside. We dug into the peat and placed the bear skull in the hole, facing the mountains. We did it with respect, with the hopes that he would go to those hills and report well on us so that we would be blessed with more animals in the future. And I did feel blessed.

    As far as memories, I got a lot more out of burying that skull than I would have from keeping it.

  35. Ryan Handeland

    I ate bear for the first time this summer while interning with MN DNR Fisheries. We had a volunteer out on the lake with us who was a usual volunteer. For lunch break he invited us into his home which was decorated with mounts of every subspecies of caribou in North America. After the grand tour and stories of bow hunts he brought us over to his slow cooker and within was the bear. It was absolutely everything I’ve heard bear wasn’t. It was delicious and hardly anything that would make you associate it with something other than beef. You could only tell it wasn’t beef because there was a subtle flavor of wild in the mix but it was good. Just like Hank said above,”This was some damn good bear”. Again I recently also had the opportunity to eat bear when my classmate shot one about a month back. We simply pan fried the bear chops in butter and didn’t season it with anything overly special. Once again the flavor was great and more akin to the best steak you could ever have. This time we couldn’t tell we were eating something wild. There was a complete absence of game flavor it was purely beef and I like a hint of wild because it lets you know you’re eating something from nature. I also just really like that wild flavor so it was almost a disappointment in that aspect but amazing still.

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