For the first round of Waiter, there is something in my ... ! I made Anthony Bourdain's boeuf bourgoingnon. For the second round of this new foodblogging event - in February focusing on pies and hosted by CookSister's Jeanne - I made something from the Russian cuisine: kulebyaka. Kulebyaka should have been on my 2007 list of foodie resolutions, as I had been thinking about making it for months, but somehow it slipped my mind when I wrote the post. But better late than never, and now was my chance to make that festive Russian pie. Kulebyaka is a high and oblong closed pie with different types of fillings. When looking for the perfect recipe, I came across kulebyakas stuffed with fish, mushrooms, meat, cabbage, even apples. Some recipes used puff pastry, some yeast pastry. I realised that it is the shape of the pie (enclosed, high, long) that distinguishes kulebyaka from a pirog (that's simply a 'pie' in Russian). However, to me kulebyaka has always meant - first and foremost - a fancy puff pastry pie filled with salmon and rice. At the end, puff pastry, sliced fresh salmon, rice, dill and dainty quail's eggs were my chosen ingredients. For those of you from the British Isles - think of Beef Wellington, just with salmon and rice instead of beef and mushrooms.
500 grams puff pastry
500 grams salmon or trout fillet, thinly sliced
150 ml rice
12 quail's eggs
fresh dill, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
(egg for brushing, black peppercorns for decorating)
Season the salmon slices with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Cook the rice in salted water until al dente. Drain and cool.
Boil the quail's eggs in simmering water for 2-3 minutes, then cool quickly under cold running water. Peel and put aside.
Roll out the puff pastry.
Place the smaller pastry sheet on a baking tray. Cover with 1/2 of the rice, then dill and 1/2 of the salmon slices. Place the quail's eggs over the salmon.
Sprinkle with dill, then cover with the rest of the rice, top with salmon slices (see right) and sprinkle any leftover dill on top. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.
Cover with the larger pastry sheet. Decorate with small cut-out fish figures (optional - I used black peppercorns for eyes:). Make a couple of insertions into the pastry with a sharp knife, so the steam can evaporate during cooking.
Brush with egg.
Bake at 200C for 20-30 minutes, until kulebyaka is golden brown.
Serve hot, either with a good bouillon (traditional way) or a dollop of mayonnaise.
Here's a cross-section of the finished pie - I really liked the way those quail's eggs looked: