Special Seafood

Salmon Coulibiac

May 15, 2021
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Truly the cuisine of royalty, salmon coulibiac (koo‐LEE‐bee‐ak) was Prince Philip’s favorite dish. It is to fish what the Wellington is to beef. An elaborate layering of herb-seasoned rice, spinach, and mushroom duxelles, encased in the golden glory of puff pastry, one slice is a beautiful meal in itself.

Armand Plumerey, writing in the 1833 L’art de la cuisine française au XIXe siècle, tells us that in St. Petersburg, the pie was usually made with salmon or pike, replaced with sturgeon on state occasions. Reflecting its Russian origins, back then the fish was layered with herbs and duxelles over buckwheat, rather than rice, before being tucked into the pastry. Nearly 150 years later, in his 1976 write-up for the New York Times, American culinary icon Craig Claiborne called coulibiac “the world’s greatest dish,” bemoaning the fact that this “celestial creation, manna for the culinary gods” could rarely be found in restaurants. But, as Claiborne pointed out, you can make it at home…and that’s still true today.

Our recipe includes fragrant spices along with the herbs in the rice. We’ve omitted the layer of boiled eggs, and simplifying things further, we’ve used ready-made puff pastry, easily found at a good grocer. Also a help: You can prepare the mushroom duxelles, the seasoned rice, and the spinach the day before, if you like, leaving the baking and assembly until right before you wish to serve the dish. Either way, salmon coulibiac–both delicious and beautiful, is worth reviving for your own special occasions.


  • Reply William Bayer December 10, 2021 at 11:09 pm

    I made the 1976 coulubiac once back in 1976 with my mother. It took two days. But it was the greatest dish. I’ve seen watered down dishes on some cooking websites. The cooked eggs are very important. The original version should be published……

    • Reply Monica Rogers December 11, 2021 at 2:29 am

      Yes, even using puff pastry not made by hand, this is an elaborate dish that does take time! I appreciate that you like the version with cooked eggs, but with all due respect, my recipe tasters preferred it without. This is a great recipe, and you can easily add the hard cooked egg layer if you wish. Happy Holidays!

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