Puff Goes The Salmon

I’ve been in the grip of my yearly evil flu. This time it became bronchitis, and I’m still not fully in the clear… Running a temperature as I type.

Times like these call for proper comfort food. We’re talking childhood stuff. I’d baked a big piece of salmon in the oven and I had a big chunk leftover. Immediately I thought of my mum’s Russian style salmon pie. I had to make some.

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I emailed mum to ask for instructions. Typically, she was vague, left out some key spices (which I luckily recalled myself), failed to give me an oven temperature or baking time… But hey. That’s how we roll in my family. I shall try to be a bit more precise here – but knowing me, not much.

I wouldn’t be too hung up on the exact amounts for any of it, I’ve given the number of eggs and the amount of rice. But basically you’re making a filling of salmon, rice, eggs and seasoning to go inside a puff pastry. It’s up to you, how to balance the flavours. The main thing is to put lots of dill and enough lemon juice in it to give the right kick for your palate. In truth, I was left with some filling, which I put in the freezer to wait for another time I feel like making this pie. I made as much as I could from one packet of frozen puffed pastry – the kind Finns make their Christmas plum pastries out of.

Mum’s Russian Salmon Pie

  • leftover  oven-baked salmon (you could also mix tinned salmon and thinly-sliced gravlax for a thrill)
  • a big bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 eggs, cooked and diced
  • 2 dl porridge rice, cooked
  • lemon juice to taste
  • Peruvian pepper, freshly ground
  • green pepper, freshly ground
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • salt
  • frozen puffed pastry, rolled as thin as possible

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First, boil your eggs. The no fail system (unless you’re cooking on gas) is to put your eggs in a pan full of cold water, placing it on an electric cooker and heating until the water has just begun to boil. Then, turn the heat off and leave the eggs to sit in the hot water for about 10 minutes. And they’re done. Just the right/soft side of hard boiled.

Once the eggs have cooled, peel and dice them into small bits.

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Also, boil your rice, according to instructions on the packet.

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Then grind your peppers (especially Peruvian pepper is key to getting the taste right) and chop up a big bunch of dill. Lots of dill. I cannot emphasise this enough. You might need two bunches. I only had one. It wasn’t enough, just alright. Also, you may chop a little onion finely.

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Mix the salmon bits, the cooked rice, the chopped eggs, the chopped dill, chopped onion and ground peppers together and season with salt and lemon juice. That’s your filling done.

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Take the puffed pastry out to thaw earlier, according to instruction on the packaging again. Once it’s feeling a bit more unfrozen, you can start rolling it out as thin as you can, using a rolling pin.

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The nice thing about this pie is that you can make one big one or several small ones or even individual pasties, if you have the time. I made two medium pies + a couple of test versions of differently shaped pasties. Below is the failed beta-version and the more successful round thingy.

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The idea is to have one thin piece of pastry underneath which you put your filling on. Spread the filling on into an even layer. Then you cover it with another thin piece of rolled-out pastry, sealing the pie from all sides with your fingers. If you want to make decorative edges using a fork, that’s cool. I just use my fingers. You don’t necessarily need a pie dish but you can use one.

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Pierce the top of the pie crust with a fork, so that the pie doesn’t burst when it’s baking. Coat the pie with some egg.

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Heat your oven to about 200 degrees Celsius. Bake your pie for 20 minutes, or less if it’s smaller. Keep an eye on the pies. Once the top gets golden and a little brown, they’re ready to come out.

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Let the pies rest before cutting into them. I fear I was too hungry to wait. The pie will keep nicely in the fridge for a few days and is even better when you reheat it in the oven. This pie, to me, is home and all things good and safe.

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