This recipe isn’t a family classic.
In fact, I have no recollection of ever eating Russian salmon pie, known as kulebyaka, in my childhood.
When I floated this recipe by my mother, she said that yes, kulebyaka is in fact a classic Russian dish. She remembers her grandmother’s version, which had a yeasty dough and ironically, no salmon, as it was not available then. In fact, most of the time it was just made with cabbage and hard boiled eggs.
The story, according to the New York Times, is that Russian fur traders introduced the pie to Alaskans in the 18th century. Unsurprisingly, it became a classic Alaskan dish. So think of this recipe as the Russian American version.
At first glance, making this pie can feel a little intimidating. All the ingredients for the filling are prepared separately before being combined in a deep dish pie pan, so it seems like there is a lot to do. But nothing about the recipe is complicated. If you can make rice and cook vegetables, you’ve pretty much mastered the majority of the technique.
This recipe calls for the use of puff pastry sheets for the dough, which I imagine my great-grandma would consider cheating, but I have nothing against that. The dough turns out flaky and delicious, and saves you the time of having to make it from scratch.
- ¾ cup short grain brown rice, dry
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 8 oz green cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb skinless Alaskan salmon fillet
- 2 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed
- ½ cup sharp cheddar, shredded
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- In a medium sized pot, cook brown rice according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, hard boil 2 of the eggs. In a separate medium sized pot, place 2 of the eggs and cover with water by at least an inch. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Once water is boiling, turn off heat and cover with lid for 9 minutes. Drain hot water and run eggs under ice cold water until they cool. Peel and chop eggs.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in cabbage, mushrooms, and red wine vinegar. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, until vegetables have softened. Transfer vegetables to bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
- Wipe out the skillet and add olive oil. Season salmon with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat until it turns pink, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and let cool. Flake salmon into large chunks and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry dough to fit a 9-inch deep pie plate (alternatively, you can use a springform pan if you don’t have a pie pan deep enough). Transfer pastry to pie plate with extra dough hanging over edges.
- Spread brown rice over the bottom of the dough. Then layer in the following order: hard boiled egg, salmon flakes, cheese, bread crumbs, vegetable mixture, and parsley. Finally, drizzle heavy cream on top.
- Roll out remaining sheet of puff pastry. Brush rim of bottom pastry with water and place second sheet on top. Trim off extra dough and use a fork to crimp the edges of the pie together.
- Whisk your last egg in a small bowl and brush the top of the pie with egg wash. Cut small slits in the top center to let steam escape. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.
Recipe adapted from New York Times.