Coulibiac of Salmon

James Beard

Author and Educator

“This roll of salmon, a Russian dish, is one of the most unusual I have encountered. It is wonderful for buffet services, for it slices well and is easy to eat with a fork. With spinach or a salad it is a meal in itself.” –James Beard


  • Brioche:

  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 package active dry yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened to the same consistency as the dough
  • Crêpes:

  • 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Coulibiac:

  • 4 or 5 salmon fillets, about 12 inches long
  • 1 pound white fish, sole or haddock
  • 12 ounces melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 recipe Brioche
  • 12 to 14 unsweetened crêpes


To make the brioche, combine 1 cup flour, the dissolved yeast, and the sugar to make a soft dough, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons water if needed. Knead on a lightly floured board and form into a ball. Cut a cross in the top of the ball, transfer to a warm bowl, and cover with a towel. Allow to rise in a warm draft-free place for about 1 hour.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook, combine the remaining 3 cups flour, the eggs, and salt. Mix with a wooden spatula or spoon or mix at low speed in the electric mixer for 3 minutes or until thoroughly blended. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula during the process. Next, work in the butter, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, being certain each piece is completely blended before adding more.

When the yeast mixture is doubled in bulk, remove from the bowl and combine with the second mixture. Mix thoroughly with the hands, a wooden spatula, or in a mixer with a dough hook. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with a towel, and set to rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk. When the dough has risen, punch it down with your fist. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and refrigerate several hours or overnight before using. The dough will rise again slowly under refrigeration and the texture will become more solid and workable. When ready to use, punch down again and roll out on a heavily floured board.

To make the crêpes, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until there are no lumps. Add the melted butter. Gradually stir in the milk and mix until the batter is the consistency of thin cream (you may not need all the milk, so add it slowly). Let the batter rest before using.

Make the crêpes in a heated 8–inch crêpe pan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, brush with a little melted butter. Pour a little of the batter into the pan, tilting and rotating it so the batter coats the surface evenly. Pour any excess back into the bowl. Cook the crêpe until lightly browned on one side; turn and lightly brown the other side. Keep warm on a plate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Poach the salmon in salt water, allowing 10 minutes per inch of measured thickness. Poach the white fish separately, following the same timing. Drain and chop the white fish, then mix in 8 ounces melted butter and parsley. Set this mixture aside.

Remove the brioche dough from the refrigerator, punch down, and roll out into a large rectangle. Melt the remaining 4 ounces butter. Put a layer of crêpes on the dough, then some of the white fish mixture, melted butter, another layer of crêpes and more whitefish mixture, and more melted butter. Arrange the salmon filets in the center and cover with crêpes. Roll up and decorate the top, roll each end 1 inch over the filling with the sides meeting and overlapping slightly. Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet. Allow to stand for 25 minutes to rise slightly. Brush with egg wash and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Serve the coulibiac with melted butter.


8 servings