Salmon Pie. Two words that inspire hunger in this household and everyone down to the tiniest mouth will ask for more. Often called pirok or even kulebyaka if your Russian is up to par. Basically it is a Russian dish that Alaskan’s have taken on as their own, and I have flipped into my own style of cooking.
The pirok is layers of wild Alaska salmon, a medley of rices, baby Portobellos, purple cabbage, red onions, and fresh thyme, along with gooey cheeses all inside a flaky puffy perfect crust. This dish is one that offers comfort on what feels like Fall days already around here. It is also a show stopper at potlucks or dinner parties. Actually I have decided anytime you make something in a pie plate it is guest worthy and this is no exception with the easy homemade rough puff pastry dough to really wow the crowd!
I like to use Chum in this recipe as we tend to get some in our subsistence net each summer and I feel it performs well when baked into dishes such as this. You can use whatever type of salmon you have on hand, just remember friend ask for wild never farmed. King salmon will be a bit richer, sockeye will impart a slightly stronger fish flavor, Coho a more mild taste, and I have not made this with pink salmon but I’d imagine if that is what you have it would do just fine!
In our family news, Icicle Seafoods stopped buying Humpeys and Coho’s on August 10th and that means Bronson will finally be headed back into port and putting the boat away until another season. There are berries are still to be harvested and we are likely going to take the skiff out moose or caribou hunting when the season opens. Ethan will turn 11 very soon and head back to Anchorage to spend the winter with my brother, his dad, as a Middle Schooler! Before school resumes for us we need to get siding up on the tiny house, as another winter without it is not ideal. A chore list that never ends…and so there is pie.
Pirok, a Savory Alaskan Salmon Pie (with a simple homemade puff pastry crust)
one 9 inch pie plate
2 sheets of puff pastry dough, or two all butter pie crusts
For the Filling:
- 1 lb Wild Alaskan Salmon – skinned with pin-bones removed
- 1 cup cooked rice medley or brown rice – I use this organic blend of black, long grain red, & brown rice
- 2 teaspoons white truffle oil – (optional but worth it I think if you have on hand)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup shedded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2/3 cup feta cheese – crumbled
- 2 hardboiled eggs – peeled and chopped roughly
- 1 egg – whisked for brushing crust before baking
- 1 small red onion – diced
- 1/4 head of purple cabbage – chopped roughly
- 8 oz Baby Portobello mushrooms – diced
- 4-5 large garlic cloves – minced
- 5-6 springs of fresh thyme
- a splash apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar works well too)
- sea salt
- black pepper
- smoked paprika
- celery salt
For the Homemade Rough Puff Pastry Crust:
- 3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
- 24 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Simple Homemade Rough Puff Pastry:
If you choose to make your own puff pastry you’ll want to plan 15 minutes of hands on time with the dough and then 1 hour to chill the dough prior to use. I use an Annie’s Eats Recipe for the making of my puff pastry and I cannot recommend it enough, every time I make it it turn out flaky and wonderful. The only exception to Annie’s recipe is instead of halving finished dough divide it into three pieces, one slightly larger than one-third, and the remainder into two equal parts. This recipe makes enough for the top and bottom crust (the large piece of dough) and one small extra piece, which is perfect for a dessert to accompany dinner! It would be delicious rolled out, placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and topped with your favorite jam or cinnamon and sugar. You could even bake first then arrange an in-season fresh fruit on top with a sprinkle of raw sugar…. bake at 375 degrees F until the pastry puffs, turns golden, and serve with fresh whipped cream…. just a thought!
For the pie:
Preheat you oven 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a heavy bottom skillet over medium heat melt the butter and sauté the onion until it begins to become translucent. Toss in the cabbage, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until the mushrooms reduce in size and the cabbage begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with a generous pinch of sea salt and a few cracks of pepper, the leaves from 3-4 springs of the thyme, and a small splash of apple cider vinegar. Remove veggie blend from pan into a bowl, mix with the crumbled feta and set aside.
Add the olive oil to your now empty veggie pan. Season your skinless salmon fillet on both sides with a few shakes of celery salt, several cracks of pepper, and smoked paprika. I don’t have exact quantities for you (sorry if this is making your nature work into a frenzy) but a good rule of thumb I use is one granule thick of whatever spice in all spaces so you can just see the flesh of the fish underneath… in other words live boldly and wing it! Sear the salmon for about 3 minutes on each side and flake into large chunks. Don’t worry if the fish is not cooked all the way through it’ll finish in the oven.
Line the bottom of your pie plate with the large piece of puff pastry dough (if made it with the above recipe and suggestions), allow about 1 inch of overhang all the way around. Mix your rice with the truffle oil and spread evenly across the crust, next scatter your chopped hardboiled eggs onto the rice, the next layer will be your flaked fish with the remaining 1-2 springs of thyme’s leaves sprinkled on top of the fish, next sprinkle in the cheddar cheese. Finally pile your mix of crumbled feta and veggies on top of the cheddar. Cover the the pie with your remaining puff pastry sheet, fold the overhanging sides from the bottom crust over the top crust and pinch to seal. Brush with a whisked egg and vent by adding a few slits to the top crust.
Bake 40-50 minutes until pastry puffs and crust becomes a rich golden brown. Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting and serving. (Note if you used pie crust instead of puff pastry you cooking time may be slightly longer.)