Coulibiac – Salmon And Brown Rice (Simplified Version)


     If unique is what you are seeking in a salmon recipe, try a coulibiac.  It’s essentially a pastry loaf containing salmon baked with rice, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, wine, herbs, and spices.  I read about it in the July 29, 2013, edition of The New Yorker magazine in an article titled “Cooking With Daniel,” where author Bill Buford (author of the book Heat) and Daniel Boulud recreate three French dishes, one of them being coulibiac. 

Originally A Russian Dish

     It’s origin is Russia and was adapted to French cuisine by the great chef, Auguste Escoffier. It’s basically a fish pie baked in a pastry shell. There are many variations containing different filling ingredients. The preparation and cooking techniques vary widely also.

     While my version is a simplified version, there were no shortcuts or pre-prepared ingredients in their approach.  They made a brioche (the pastry for the loaf) painstakingly from scratch, while my recipe contains puff pastry.

     In either case the result is an elegant loaf which makes for an impressive presentation.  When sliced, it reveals its layered ingredients in an interesting way. It is a crowd pleaser both in taste and sight.

A Coulibiac Is Dinner Party Friendly

     It is a good dish for hosting a dinner party because it can be made up in the morning or early afternoon of the event. Be sure before the pie is assembled that all of the ingredients are cooled. Prepare the pie and cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Take it out and pop it into the oven about 50 minutes before needed.

     I found it to be especially delicious when served with a martini sauce or with a melted butter/lemon sauce. Many believe this masks the wonderful flavor of the ingredients in the pie. Serve it with a green salad  and pair it with a wonderful chardonnay.Try this once and I think it will be one of your favorite ways to serve salmon.

Coulibiac Salmon And Brown Rice (Simplified Version)

yields: 4 Servings prep time: Begin 24 hours prior to target time. cook time: 90 Minutes
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2 Pkgs 1 Pkg 4 1 lb. Amounts to personal taste 1 1/2 lb. 2 2 2 Tbsp 1 Tbsp 1 Tbsp
Brown rice whole grain (microwave version) Puff pastry dough Eggs hard-boiled Salmon (skin removed) Salmon seasonings Onion red diced Mushrooms portabella coursely chopped Eggs whisked for rice mixture Eggs whisked for egg wash Scallions sliced Parsley Fresh thyme
  • 2 Pkgs
    Brown rice whole grain (microwave version)
  • 1 Pkg
    Puff pastry dough
  • 4
    Eggs hard-boiled
  • 1 lb.
    Salmon (skin removed)
  • Amounts to personal taste
    Salmon seasonings
  • 1
    Onion red diced
  • 1/2 lb.
    Mushrooms portabella coursely chopped
  • 2
    Eggs whisked for rice mixture
  • 2
    Eggs whisked for egg wash
  • 2 Tbsp
    Scallions sliced
  • 1 Tbsp
  • 1 Tbsp
    Fresh thyme


Thaw Puff Pastry (24 hours in advance)

Enter Target Time _______________

Time: __________ (90 minutes prior to target time)

  1. Microwave two packages of rice, and cool. Set aside.

  2. Hard-boil two eggs. Cover in saucepan with 1” of cold water. Bring to boil, then simmer for 12 minutes. Plunge in a bowl of ice and water. When cool, peel and slice. Set aside.

  3. Carmelize onion in 14” skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms to the onions. Set aside.

  4. Skin and season salmon. Pan sear in vegetable oil over med-high heat in skillet used to caramelize the onion/mushroom mixture. Should be crisp on outside, raw inside.  

  5. In a large bowl, combine rice, hard-boiled eggs, onion/mushroom mix, whisked eggs, scallions, parsley, and thyme. Salt and pepper mixture.

  6. On large pastry board, flour and roll out the two Puff Pastry sheets. One sheet should by larger than the other. The larger of the two will be used as the top sheet.

  7. Line raised baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place parchment paper in bottom.

  8. Place the smaller sheet of puff pastry on parchment paper. In the center of the pastry make a 1” tall bed of rice mixture for the salmon. Layer ½ of the egg slices on rice mixture and place salmon on top of eggs (may have to cut pieces to shape). Add the rest of the egg slices on top of the salmon, and add another layer of the rice mixture on top of eggs. With your hands, shape into a loaf as best you can. 

  9. Place the larger piece of puff pastry over the layers so that there is enough of the top pastry to seal the sides with a fork. Trim excess so the loaf looks neat.

  10. Brush on egg wash.

  11. Bake at 350 degrees in the center of the oven for 35 minutes. Watch closely. If it looks like it is browning too fast, tent with aluminum foil.

  12. Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice with a sharp bread knife and serve.

You can prepare and ladle on a martini sauce (lots of good recipes online), but it doesn’t really need it.

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