Salmon coulibiac


In case you were worried, I’m still alive, though, admittedly, baking a little less.

There was a trip and then there was some laziness and then there were some scheduling issues but tonight there’s salmon coulibiac.

A phrase that I still don’t fully understand nor can I fully pronounce.

If you’re a fan of Julie and Julia (and if you’ve stumbled upon this blog, I would assume you are), you’ll remember her ultimate accomplishment: the deboned duck. (I added the “de” because it’s more accurate and sounds better.)

When I first purchased this Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking book and flipped through it, this felt like my equivalent.

Salmon topped with rice mixture wrapped in crepes wrapped in puff pastry.

Also I wasn’t sure when I’d make it and how I’d share it with others.

Solution? Don’t share it with others.

In a way, savoury recipes are a lot easier to convert to a single-serving recipe. It’s hard to change the measurements of a cake that can be enjoyed in a smaller portion. But doing the same with a dinner is far easier.

Or so I told myself.

(And it actually was, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

This recipe was initially going to be made several days ago, but then plans came up and my puff pastry sat thawed in the fridge for four days. Google said that puff pastry is okay thawed for two to three days. But it was in the fridge. It’s not like it gathered mold. (Or is it “mould”? My Canadian OED is sitting on my desk at work.) I made a call that it’s probably not bad, it may just not puff as much, and I could live with that.

It’s Saturday now and I have a free evening to devote to this beast, and so I did.

By starting with crepes.

Wholemeal crepes made with a touch of dill.

The recipe says to mix together the wet and dry ingredients and let it rest for half an hour, adding melted butter and dill immediately before baking them. It also said that the milk and eggs needed to be room temperature, but I figured since it was sitting for half an hour, it would get to be room temperature after I mixed it.

Also it called for a medium egg and medium egg yolk, but I didn’t want to separate an egg for no reason when I could just use a large egg, so that’s what I did. One large egg. Cold from the fridge.

I’m a rebel.

While I baked and expertly flipped (sorry for the humblebrag but I’m good at flipping crepes) about a dozen savoury crepes …

… I also got the rice ready.

Rice that should technically be basmati and wild rice but is just basmati. And rice that should technically also have cooked onions and mushrooms added in but have neither because I don’t like onions and mushrooms.

With a stack of savoury crepes that I told myself I could freeze and use another day (spoiler: I ended up tossing the excess because they’ll get freezer burned before I remember to use them another day) …

… I grabbed the puff pastry from the fridge.

Puff pastry that probably had a specific instruction for, like, resting or bringing to room temperature or something, but puff pastry that I just cut up as instructed (just under half to be used as the bottom layer) …

… and rolled out cold.

The rice was finished so I thought it would be fine to compile everything slightly warm (except the salmon) and then pop into the oven, but then I read ahead and realized I needed to chill it for half an hour first.

I’m glad I eat late dinners and aimed at making an early dinner tonight.

I really need to get better at reading recipes in full.

Or recipes should include a “total baking time” so I don’t have to do the math myself.

To speed things up, I tossed warm crepes back and forth between my hands like I was tossing pizza dough to cool it down and then I took a plate of rice outside into the autumnal air before putting it in the fridge and then eventually the freezer.

Finally everything was room temperature and I could face my fears and get assembling.

As instructed, I laid out overlapping crepes on top of the bottom layer of puff pastry.

And then I topped those crepes with the salmon filet.

Which was also topped with salt and pepper.

And the rice, which had dried parsley and dill added in (because fresh herbs just go bad in my fridge).

And then I put an egg wash all over the crepes and wrapped up the salmon like a little perishable Christmas present.

And then I eggwashed the bottom layer of pastry and topped the whole thing with the second piece of puff pastry.

And then I carefully smoothed it out, making sure there were no air bubbles trapped, and squeezed the pastry layers together, cutting 2 cm around (the width of my thumb, if you’re wondering). And then I made a little design with the back of the knife and sliced five little X-shaped air holes in the top.

And then I chilled it.

For half an hour.

*half an hour later*

Out of the fridge, eggwashed immediately and popped in the oven for twenty minutes.

*20 minutes later*

And then I lowered the temperature and kept it in for another 25 minutes.

*25 minutes later*

And then I pulled it out, cut it in half, saw the salmon was cooked and flaky, and got eating.

Even though it was time-consuming, I think this is one of the easiest bakes I’ve done.

Or maybe I’m just that good.

Or it’s really basic when you skip steps and use store-bought puff pastry.

But I think the real lesson with this bake is … it’s not worth it.

Salmon can be so good. I live in a coastal area with yummy salmon available in stores. A bit of lemon juice, dill and salt and pepper, baked with no pastry in sight, with a nice side salad? And a glass of white if you’re feeling fancy? Delicious! Why do we need to wrap it in buttery puff pastry and hide its goodness under layers of unnecessary carbs?

I know I shouldn’t really complain about carbs while doing a baking blog, but when it comes to these savoury items, I think the Brits could consider healthy alternatives that are far tastier.

In other words: stop with the meat pies!

Oh right, one more thing: this isn’t a British bake. It’s originally Russian. This book is a lie.

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