Bea, Ethan and I just got home from a long weekend at fish camp on Ekuk Beach. Well Bea and I did, Ethan had been there nearly a week and a half that lucky boy! My sister in law and her family have spent generations commercial set net fishing off Ekuk Beach for salmon. They have created a really lovely lifestyle there raising families to work and play hard, and every summer they let us wrap ourselves into the scene for at least few days.
Each tide they go down the beach to pull the net and we try to be helpful, fun guests… I’ve learned a pie is never frowned upon, especially a fresh rhubarb salmon berry pie hot from the oven, and neither is a two year old eagerly hauling pink salmon to the truck!
Rhubarb is a cold weather crop that does exceedingly well in Alaska, and our hot summer has only helped our garden patches flourish. Sadly the unseasonably dry spring we had did little favors for the salmon berries that grow wild on the tundra. Though a few quarts were to be found and they really complimented the rhubarb in this pie.
Cloud berries or salmon berries as they are locally known in Bristol Bay are a segmented salmon pink berry that grow one berry to a plant making them tedious to pick, but the payoff is worth it!
To make Rhubarb Salmon Berry Pie you’ll need:
a 9 inch pie plate
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tsp table salt
2 sticks, very cold unsalted butter (16 Tbsp)
1/2 cup cold water
For the Filling:
8 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups salmon berries (easily substituted with raspberries if salmon berries are scarce)
2/3 – 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp heavy cream for brushing
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl mix the pie crust by sifting together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or by using your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with butter pieces no larger than peas. Fold in water with a rubber spatula and using your hands form two equal balls of dough, cover and chill while you prepare the filling.
Cut rhubarb stalks into small cubes and toss into a large pot over medium heat,stir often until the rhubarb leaches it’s juice and begins to soften, stir in sugar and cinnamon and remove from heat.
Roll out one ball of pie crust and line the pie pan. Using a rubber spatula spoon in the rhubarb filling and sprinkle the salmon berries on top.
With remaining pie dough create a lattice top by rolling out dough into a rectangle and slicing it into 1/2 inch wide strips, weave over the filling and crimp edges to seal. Using the remaining dough to cut out into pretty shapes to line the edges may bit a over the top, but in a way no ones seriously teases you for. Brush crust with heavy cream prior to baking.
Place into oven and turn heat down to 375 degrees, bake 40-50 minutes covering edges with tin foil if browning too quickly. Pie is done when the filling is bubbly and crust is lightly browned across the top.
Serve warm with creamy brown coffee, whip cream or vanilla ice cream scooped heartily.
Pie recipe crust adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
by Deb Perelman