David's Recipe for Salmon En Croûte

The love-child of classic coulibiac with Alice B. Toklas' recipe for "Fish in a Spanish Pie", a sort of whole-trout empanada. The daughters of mixed marriages are frequently very pretty.

Main Course, American

  • About 2 ounces of cake yeast (1 package where I live)
  • 1 soup spoon sugar
  • 1 3-kg butterfly filet of salmon
  • 1 kg flour, with a little extra for flouring the rolling pin and table
  • 12 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3/4 cup fish stock
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for the dough, with a little extra for sauteing and for oiling the salmon
  • 1/2 coffee spoon salt, divided into 3 parts
  • 1 coffee spoon ground star anise, with a pinch reserved
  • 3 soup spoons brandy
  • 2 pinches of ground nutmeg
  • 300 gm light raisins
  • 200 gm chopped walnuts
  • 1 beaten egg
  1. Have all of the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Cream the sugar and yeast together.
  3. Heat the brandy in a small saucepan for a few seconds to drive away most of the alcohol.
  4. Add the fish stock and heat until lukewarm.
  5. Mix in the yeast mixture, the yolks, the 1/4 cup oil, a pinch of salt, a pinch of nutmeg, and the anise.
  6. Mix the liquids into the flour, and knead the dough thoroughly.
  7. Cover the dough with a cloth and allow it to rise until double. This will take about an hour in a cool room. When the dough has doubled, beat it down and let it rise again until doubled. It will go much quicker this time.
  8. Lay the salmon with the inner (meat) side up, with two pieces of string laid underneath it to tie it later.
  9. Sprinkle a pinch of salt, a pinch of nutmeg, and a pinch of anise on the salmon flesh. Coat the flesh with a little of the oil.
  10. Mix the remaining pinch of salt into the raisins and walnuts, and saute them in the remaining oil for a few minutes. Be careful: like everything with a lot of sugar, the raisins scorch easily.
  11. Press the raisin and nut mixture into one side of the flesh of the salmon, putting more of the stuffing near the 'hinge' of the butterfly and leaving about an inch bare near the 'edge'.
  12. Fold the remaining side of the salmon over the side with the stuffing and tie tightly. Some of the stuffing will certainly fall out. Don't worry about it.
  13. Microwave the salmon until partly cooked. In my 1200-watt microwave oven, I cook it on medium for 5 minutes.
  14. Preheat the oven to medium.
  15. Lay out and flour some baking papers. Use a floured rolling pin and your fingers, alternately, to roll out the dough until it is about 1-1/2 times the circumference of the fish in width, and long enough to easily seal the fish at each end. It will be about 1/3 inch thick.
  16. Protecting your hands from the heat of the fish, gently move the stuffed fish to the center of the baking paper.
  17. Using the baking paper to manoeuver the dough, fold one side of it over the fish. Dampen the top surface of the dough on top of the fish with some beaten egg to glue it, then fold the other side of the dough over it and press gently to glue. Similarly, fold, seal, and glue the two ends of the fish.
  18. Paint the top and sides of the pastried fish with beaten egg so that it will brown nicely, and pretty quickly.
  19. Even though there will probably be some holes in the dough for steam to escape, use a fork to make full-thickness holes in the dough.
  20. Put another piece of baking paper in a walled cookie sheet. Use the paper on which the fish is sitting to gently lift it onto the baking sheet.
  21. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden.
  22. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  23. Using a very sharp knife and a gentle sawing motion, cut thick slices and serve as a one-dish meal, maybe with a soup or a salad. You might want to remind you guests that the crust is very edible. Some people think that this dish is better served at room temperature.

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