Just like picking fruit and making preserves, gathering mushrooms and marinating them is a Russian classic. The weekend pastime harkens back to a time when communist citizens were free from the dictatorship of consumerism and social networks, and Muscovites could enjoy the simple comforts of their suburban datchas without spending hours in traffic jams and taking out half a dozen bank loans.
This recipe is loosely adapted from Anya von Bremzen’s Please to the Table. I like my marinated mushrooms with a relatively low level of acidity so I can still taste the mushrooms. The downside is that the brine probably isn’t suited for long-term preservation, so be sure to eat them all within a few days. Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to see me using wild mushrooms. Porcini work great, and can be coupled with other spring vegetables. Chanterelles are equally suitable, and it seems that they’re available year-round nowadays, most likely as imports from all corners of the world.
Pirozhki are Russian buns, usually individual-sized and baked. As with varenyky, you can fill them with pretty much anything you want — in fact, you could even use the exact same fillings for pirozhki and varenyky. It’s not rare, however, to find more diverse recipes, some of then even in classic French cookbooks. Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire, for example, counts a dozen variations called piroguis (not to be confused with Polish pierogi), and the Larousse Gastronomique has a few similar pirojkis, many of which take some serious culinary license with the real deal.
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.