Salmon and spinach koulibiac..and feeling salmoned out!

I’ve been struggling with this koulibiac for two full days. The first one was far too dry, so I took on a second one.  Terrifying colors!  The third tasted complicated..and by that time, I couldn’t trust my judgement any more either! Tasting the same thing for two days…the same salmon, the same spinach, the same onion mix etc, truly numbs the taste buds. Finally I came back to the first effort with a few changes here and there. It is how it works with my painting as well. The first effort is always the most spontaneous, most honest rendering. Writing too. Those first thoughts should never be changed…only polished maybe, but never changed.

Just for interesting sake, here is the last effort..remember…the one with the complicated flavors?

Salmon and spinach koulibiac(pie)recipe

  1. Clean about 700g of fresh salmon fillet and poach for about 10 minutes or until flaky, but not dry and colorless. Leave to cool. Flake, remove all skin and the bones. Add lemon juice and  zest of 1 lemon, season to taste and mix lightly. Add alittle poaching liquid to the flaked salmon to prevent it from being dry.
  2. Sautée 2 small onions in olive oil. Add about 1 cup(250 ml) white arborio risotto rice, add salt, and 500 ml water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the rice is creamy. Stir in 1 TBSP of butter. Remove from the heat and leave aside(covered) to cool.
  3. Rinse and dry 2  large handfuls of fresh young spinach leaves. Chop roughly.
  4. Finely chop 2 large bunches fresh dill. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C.
  5. Grease a bread tin with butter, (12cx24cm).
  6. Roll out 500g puff pastry, (pre ordered from your baker).Cut a rectangle large enough to line the bottom and sides of your bread tin(about 1/3 of the 500g). Keep in the fridge until needed along with the rest of the pastry.
  7. Fill the puff pastry base with some rice, cover with spinach leaves, the chopped dill, the flaked salmon, chopped dill again, some spinach leaves, and end with a layer of rice.
  8. Roll out the rest of the  puff pastry and cut a rectangle a little bigger than the bread mould. Place over the rice topping and wet the fingers to glue the sides of the top neatly together with the pastry base.
  9. Roll out the rest of the pastry into shapes of your desire and decorate the top as you wish. Replace in the fridge for an hour to get cold.
  10. Brush the top with 1 egg and make a hole in the top of the pastry with some baking paper to serve as a “chimney” and let heat and steam escape.
  11.  Bake for abut 40 minutes. Cover with a sheet of baking paper or brown paper if the top browns too dark.
  12. Bake a sauce of Bulgarian yogurt and crème fraiche, season with salt and pepper, a spoonful of mustard and lemon juice.
  13. Serve sliced with a fresh green salad and pungent vinaigrette.

Serves 8 people

Suggestions:

  • When poaching the salmon, add a carrot, an onion, lemon slices, dill and parsley stems to the poaching water to flavor the salmon. Strain afterwards and save the water for a soup.
  • The rice should be slightly sticky which will keep the rice layer together for better cutting of your koulibiac.
  • The success of puff pastry depends on as little handling as possible, working with cool hands, and being put very cold into a hot oven. The temperature can be lowered afterwards.
  • Don’t layer too much rice so you end up having a whole lot of rice and a lot of too little salmon! I tend to add too much rice to my layers..
  • Try whole wheat rice, wild rice or quinoa instead of white rice for a more healthy option.
  • Add a sprinkling of dried yellow/orange flower petals between the rice and spinach layer for a colorful version…zinnia petals, nasturtium, begonia, geraniums, marguerites, sunflowers, nasturtiums…
  • Have fun creating your own versions!

…doesn’t look too bad when goinginto the oven(remember that I’m at coin Perdu, baking in the wood burning stove…I’m sooo good!!)

…and the sortie out of the oven after 40 minutes doens’t look too bad either(except for some bad photography!)…

Why do I prefer the first effort?

*The flavors are clean and simple and along with the sauce it combines into perfect harmony. The biggest challenge of this effort is to make sure your koulibiac isn’t dry. So my tips would be to: add some poaching liquid to the salmon, make sure the rice is moist and sticky, but still white and plump(chicken stock tends to color your rice).

In the next two efforts?

*I added roasted fennel, combined it with the dill and added as an extra layer. The result was that the flavors were just too complicated and overpowering for the whole ensemble. Much like an electrical guitar playing in a symphonic orchestra…

*I also added chopped red onion to the salmon, which ended up with some ugly purply  spots between the delicate pink of the salmon.

*Oh, and don’t forget that wobbly silicone bread pan-business-thing which I’ve tried for the first time…cost me an arm and a leg! It “stretched” in the middle so the bread shape plonked out…you can see it in the first image. I was a very unhappy woman… In the second image I used my ole trusted normal bread tin and just look at the difference…a lovely square shape.

The lesson: Simple ALWAYS works! You may have to adapt a little here and change a  little there, but staying on the simple road is to be on the success road.

No sketch with the recipe today…too tired, too fed up with salmon, too heavy from all the tasting…a good chef alwasy tastes his food, they say. I did that and look where I am now…?

No story from my side either…aren’t you happy!? I have no first thoughts left after these two days.

And now please..

“Please don’t feed me no more salmon…

I could do with a little bit of famine…

My kitchen makes me ill…

for lack of clean… plates and place to chill..

and I am now ready for that thing they call in French…”régime”?

Oh man…how to lose these salubrious omega 3’…sss

So I can again be the lanky woman of my man’s dream…sss!”

a bientôt … from the gleaming omega omnivore!!


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13 responses

  1. A beautiful koulibiac! Very appetizing.

    A tiring experience indeed.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    12/01/2012 at 18:30

  2. C’est beau!! My turn next..We had salmon last week and have a nice fresh piece (frozen now) to poach..i will try this..makes me mad i just threw out rice from 2 nights ago..would have been great..but maybe not sticky enough:) I love the chimneys too..

    As always love the personal glimpses in the kitchen..We broke our glass top coffee table last night..We are cutting the legs off an old pine writing desk I have..:) Full of marks and dents :) It will be our new OLD coffee table..Your wood reminded me of this:)
    You went to a lt of work!
    I like silicone for certain things..

    I have the perfect non silicone one for this..

    Miss Amasse-Tout here.

    You are so beautiful just teh way you are..don’t think of shedding a gram.

    12/01/2012 at 19:28

  3. Happy Newyear. And your dish just look too beautiful to eat.

    12/01/2012 at 20:07

  4. You must be so healthy now eating all of that salmon :)

    What a beautiful presentation the pie makes and I love the little chimneys. I’ll have to buy extra salmon next time I’m at the store just to try this. I think I’d even like just the salmon alone inside the puff pastry!

    Applause for all of your effort!

    12/01/2012 at 23:14

  5. Ronelle,

    The whole effort looks delicious to me, but I do appreciate all of your advice when making this dish. I love salmon and would definitely try this one.

    Eileen

    13/01/2012 at 00:52

  6. wow these look amazing!!!

    13/01/2012 at 04:30

  7. Martie

    Ronel, Hierdie Koulibiac lyk darem baie mooi en lekker. Gaan dit probeer. Mooi Nuwe Jaar. Ek vlieg op Vrydag 13 April na Frankryk vir ‘n kuier.
    Groete

    13/01/2012 at 06:08

  8. Another of your recipes to bookmark :>)

    13/01/2012 at 10:44

  9. I think look absolutely delicious and amazing, love the pictures too!!!

    13/01/2012 at 14:39

  10. This is stunning, gorgeous and would be welcome at my table. When I have a free week! Or you make it for me.

    13/01/2012 at 16:26

  11. That is a beautiful salmon pie! Makes me hungry. I will spend the next four days cooking and baking. There is no school today nor on Monday.

    13/01/2012 at 17:09

  12. Wow Ronelle, It looks scrumptious!!! Your photography is beautiful as always!
    Ixx

    15/01/2012 at 03:32

  13. Pingback: Salmon, potato and mussel salad..and a contribution to pie-ography | Myfrenchkitchen

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