Kulebiaka

Kulebiaka
Fish, Rice, and Mushrooms in Pastry

Our decadent, farewell-to-the-czars fish kulebiaka layered with blinchiki (crepes) was probably the most spectacular thing Mom and I have ever made in our lives. And so time-consuming that I can't really recommend you try it at home. Instead, I offer here a far less laborious version--minus the complicated layers and blinchiki--that will still leave your guests gasping with awe. The sour cream in the yeast dough (Mom's special touch) adds a lovely tang to the buttery casing. Inside, the flavors of wild mushrooms, dill, and two types of fish all mingle seductively. Serve the kulebiaka for special occasions with a green salad and lemon-flavored vodka. Lots of it. 

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup warm milk 
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar 
  • 1 large raw egg; plus 2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped 
  • 3/4 cup sour cream 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste 
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces; plus 4 tablespoons for the filling 
  • 2 1/4 cups flour, plus more as needed 
  • 3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil 
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless cod fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped 
  • 10 ounces wild or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and finely chopped 
  • 1 cup cooked white rice 
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped dill 
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 
  • 2 tablespoons vermouth or dry sherry 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 3 tablespoons chicken stock 
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs 
  • Glaze: 1 egg yolk whisked with 2 teaspoons milk 
Instructions

1. Make the pastry: In a medium bowl stir together the milk, yeast, and sugar and let stand until foamy. Whisk in the raw egg, 1/2 cup sour cream, and the salt. In a large bowl, combine the 8 tablespoons of cut-up butter with the flour. Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the yeast mixture and stir well with your hands to make a soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2. Bring the dough to room temperature, about 1 hour. Grease a mixing bowl with a little butter or oil. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. 

3. Make the filling: In a large skillet heat the oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the salmon and cod and cook, turning once, until fish just begins to flake, about 7 minutes. Transfer the fish to a large bowl. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onions and cook until light golden. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are golden and the liquid they throw off has evaporated, about 7 minutes, adding more oil if the skillet looks dry. Transfer the mushrooms and onions to the bowl with the fish. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sour cream, the hard-cooked eggs, rice, dill, parsley, vermouth, lemon juice, stock, and nutmeg. Mix everything well with two forks, stirring gently to break up the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Let the filling cool to room temperature.

4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. with the rack set in the center. Halve the dough and form two logs. On two lightly floured sheets of wax paper, roll each dough log into a 10 by 16-inch rectangle. Transfer one dough sheet to a large foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, leaving a 1-inch border. Spread the filling over the bread crumbs in a neat compact layer. Drape the remaining dough over the filling and pinch the edges to seal. Trim excess dough from the edges, and reserve scraps. Fold up the edges of dough and crimp decoratively. Let the kulebiaka rise for 15 minutes. Brush the top of the pastry with egg glaze. Roll out the dough scraps, cut into decorative shapes, and press on top of the dough. Brush again with the egg glaze. Poke small holes through the top of dough for steam to escape. Bake until golden and beautiful, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut into slices, and serve. 

Reprinted from the book Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen. Copyright © 2013 by Anya von Bremzen. Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

Yield: 
Serves 6 to 8
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