Finnish soul food, salmon coulibiac..

Long and cold winter in Finland.You need food that warms you up.I remember my mother making this quite often during the winter time when we had guests over.  Coulibiac has become one of our family everyday foods. We love to eat fish and this is little bit different way of doing it. It is also wonderful dish when you have guests coming over. You can prepare it ahead, and  just bake it, when your guests have arrived. It it also quite easy to adjust for vegetarians..

A coulibiac is a type of Russian pie usually filled with salmon or sturgeon, rice or buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms,onions, and dill. The pie is baked in a pastry shell, usually of brioche or puff pastry. Served with melted butter. So not a very light dish.

The dish was so popular in Russia in the early part of the 20th century that Auguste Escoffier , the famed French chef, brought it to France and included recipes for it in his masterwork, The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery.

My version of coulibiac is bit different today. I found wonderful fresh spinach from the Organic store so I decided to use it instead of onion. And I used ready made buff pastry.

Recipe

  • 50g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 700g skinless, boneless lightly smoked raw salmon fillet or use non-smoked raw salmon fillets, cut into finger thick slices
  • 2 x 375g blocks all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

For the rice

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 400ml sour cream
  • zest 1 lemon, juice ½
  • large bunch dill

For the spinach

  • 500g fresh spinach
  • butter
  • one small onion finely diced
  • salt and pepper
  • dash of cream

Method

  1. First, get everything prepared. Boil the eggs and cook for 8 mins exactly. Drain and cool under cold water, then peel and set aside.
  2. Slice the salmon into thin slices,set aside
  3. Now cook the rice. Melt the rest of the butter in the same pan. Add the onion,  gently fry for 8 mins until golden. Stir in the rice . Turn off the heat and leave covered for 10 mins, then stir through the lemon zest and juice. Set aside to cool. This can be done several hrs in advance. Once cool, stir though the chopped dill.
  4. Fry spinach in butter with onions. Spice with pepper and salt and add little cream.Set on the side and let it cool.
  5. To assemble the pie, roll out one of the pieces of pastry to a rectangle as wide but a third longer than this magazine (23 x 40cm), then lay on a baking tray. Pack half the rice along the middle of the pastry leaving a good 5cm border around the edge. Lay the sliced eggs over the rice, then the spinach,then salmon . Use your hands to gently pack everything down to a firm, even shape. Brush any stray grains of rice off the border, then brush the border with beaten egg,
  6. Roll the second piece of pastry out to a rectangle slightly larger than the first. Drape over the coulibiac and gently press the edges to seal the 2 pastry sheets together. Trim the edges to neaten and crimp with your fingers or press down with a fork. The uncooked pie can now be chilled, on the baking sheet, for a day or frozen for up to 2 months.(Or do as I usually do.I just roll everything together)
  7. To cook, heat oven to 220C.Brush the pie all over with beaten egg and, if you want, lightly score the pastry with the back of a knife in a criss-cross fashion, making sure you don’t cut all the way through . Bake for 20 mins, then reduce the heat to 200C/180C and continue to cook for 20 mins until golden brown. Leave to rest for 10 mins, then serve in thick slices with a bowl of Dill cream or melted butter.

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