Cayuga Lake Salmon, Blue Cheese and Porcini Coulibiac

I know I’ve already posted a coulibiac recipe about a year ago, but this one is a bit different. While still keeping the format of a traditional coulibiac (dough, fish, rice), I chose the other elements based on their chemical composition. As it turns out, ingredients that share a lot of chemical compounds are more likely to pair well together. When it comes to salmon, the so-called chemical pairings include:

  • various fish species — not really a surprise;
  • beef, followed by other meats to a smaller extent — I don’t think this makes a great pairing, but it’s interesting to note that in many regards, salmon is to fish what beef is to meat;
  • blue cheese, as well as several other cheeses;
  • black tea, and some other teas;
  • porcini mushrooms;
  • and… strawberries (we’ll leave that one out today).

There’s also a simpler, more pragmatic reason for me coming up with this dish: it’s great to catch lots of salmon and trout, but then you have to cook and eat them, and new recipes are always welcome. By the time I was ready to take pictures for this post, though, my stash of land-locked salmon was long gone, and what you see is the more conventional, pinker Atlantic salmon.

Some comments about the other ingredients:

  • I chose one semi-soft cheese with a mild, milky taste, and one firm blue cheese that’s easy to grate (which helps you to distribute it better). You can substitute these with similar cheeses, though proportions will vary.
  • I got my black tea from Kusmi. I wanted to pick something with a pretty strong flavor that still had a chance to be detected in the final dish. Kusmi’s smoked Samovar blend fit the bill.
  • I use frozen porcini, purchased here. Fresh porcini would work too, of course, but they’re not always available. The main difference with fresh mushrooms is the texture (the frozen ones are mushy, and I wouldn’t eat them just sautéed), but it doesn’t matter too much here.

Black tea risotto
Yields 4 servings

5 oz water
2.5 tsp strong, smoked black tea (such as Kusmi Samovar)
0.5 oz butter
1.2 oz Fuji apple, small dice
1 oz shallots, small dice
1.2 oz Arborio rice

  • Bring the water to a simmer. Let rest for 2 minutes, then add the black tea, and let steep for at least 10 minutes.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the apple and shallots, and sweat until soft, stirring frequently. Mix in the rice, and cook for 1 minute. Strain the tea into the saucepan, cover with a lid, and cook over over low heat until the liquid is fully absorbed.
  • Let cool and reserve.

Sautéed porcini
Yields 4 servings

2.7 oz frozen porcini without liquid
0.3 oz butter

  • Cut the porcini into thick slices. Melt the butter in a pan over medium, then sauté the mushrooms until golden brown.
  • Let cool and reserve.

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

10 oz cleaned salmon fillets
about 7 oz puff pastry
flour
black tea risotto
sautéed porcini
salt
black pepper, ground
1.5 oz grated quadrello di buffala (or sulguni, or other mild semi-soft cheese)
1.5 oz grated blu di Lonza (or other firm blue cheese)
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

  • Place the salmon fillets in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  • Roll the puff pastry on a floured surface into a 9″ square. Reserve the trimmings.
  • Spread the black tea risotto on the puff pastry as shown in the above picture. The inner square formed by the rice is about 5″ wide. Cover with sautéed porcini, then with the salmon fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle the two grated cheeses on top.
  • Fold the corners over the filling so that they slightly overlap. Mix the egg yolk and water to make egg wash, and brush over the pastry. Using the puff pastry trimmings, apply two strips over the seams. Brush with more egg wash, and dig a “chimney” in the center with the tip of a knife. The picture below gives a better idea of the final result [unfortunately, the dough shown in the picture isn't puff pastry, but at least my method was the same].
  •  Bake in a 400 F oven for about 30-35 minutes until the coulibiac is a nice golden brown color. The timing is very important: you don’t want to undercook it, otherwise the pastry will collapse while cooling. Let rest for 5 minutes, and serve.

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