Salmon Coulibiac is what chicken pot pie wished it was: a layered fish pie with a classic layer of sautéed onions and mushrooms, a layer of hard boiled eggs, my layer of sautéed zucchini squash and a layer of flaky, poached salmon surrounded by a buttery crust. It is actually pretty quick to make, takes about an hour, and is fun to put together.
What is coulibiac? Apparently, Escoffier, the father of modern French cuisine, was working in his father’s restaurant, Francais, when some homesick Russians came in and asked for what became the coulibiac we know today. It was a dish from Mother Russia that Escoffier interpreted with layers of salmon and duxelles, a mushroom, onion mixture, rice cooked in bullion and hardboiled eggs all wrapped up in a buttery pastry. In my opinion no need to add rice since there is starch a-plenty in the pastry and adding a bit of sautéed zucchini adds a vegetable dimension that makes it ping on all the requirements of the old food pyramid.
Escoffier says to use a brioche paste without sugar, which means it’s eggy. However, I prefer a non-egg dough so I used a commercially available puff pastry by Pepperidge Farm. It worked beautifully and saves hours of time. You can also use 3-2-1 paste found here.
Why try creating this difficult dish?
Well, if you like to cook, this one’s a classic that is scary good with a bit of Hollandaise Sauce on top of each slice. It is also an impressive presentation — a pie with layers of striking complexity that looks more difficult than it is. And, it reheats beautifully in the microwave.
Serves 4, Prep-time 1 hour, Cook time 45 minutes
- 12 ounces frozen or fresh salmon, poached in salted water with a bouquet Garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf) and a few peppercorns, and set aside to cool
- 1 large zucchini, grated or chopped, sautéed in butter and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
- 3 hardboiled eggs, cooked and chopped
- 4 ounces of mushrooms, chopped, and sautéed with 4 ounces of onion until onion is transparent
- 1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, thawed in fridge overnight or use 3-2-1 paste
Lay one piece of the puff pastry in a small but deep pie dish so that it comes up the sides. Break up the cooked fish into long pieces with your fingers and layer on the bottom of the dish on top of the pastry.
Layer the zucchini, followed by the hardboiled eggs, then the mushroom mixture. Or in any order you wish!
Cover the pie with the other piece of puff pastry and tuck in the edges. No need to egg wash the top; the puff pastry will brown beautifully without it. Cut a steam vent in the center.
Place on a baking stone in the center of a oven pre-heated to 375 F and bake from 40 to 45 minutes.
Serve with Hollandaise Sauce.
Makes 1 cup
Prep time 10 minutes
- 2 egg yolks with no trace of egg white
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 stick butter, melted
- Fresh lemon juice to taste
- Pinch cayenne or white pepper
- Salt to taste
Whisk cold water, pinch of salt and two egg yolks in a round bowl above a double boiler until the egg yolk mixture thickens and becomes pale yellow. (Keep a bit of cold water at your side to add to the egg mixture and whisk in in case it starts to curdle.)
Add warm butter first by the drops then as a slow stream as you continue to whisk the egg mixture to incorporate the butter. Once you have finished adding the butter, squeeze in lemon to taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Here is a video of me making Hollandaise:
Keep sauce to the side in a warm place until you serve it, whisking in a teaspoon of cold water to smooth out the sauce to prevent curdling.