The recipe here is Sea Bass Coulibiac and tomatoes stuffed with Broccio Cheese (Bar en croute facon coulibiac, avec tomates farcies au broccio). Coulibiac (or ‘fish pie’) is a Russian-inspired dish included in Escoffier’s famous cookbook, “The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery.” Reportedly, Russians used to put various ingredients in their pie, like cabbage and sturgeon, but we used Sea Bass and even hard-boiled quail eggs.
It’s a truly delicious dish, especially when served with a creamy beurre blanc sauce.
First, we gutted and filleted a 1 kg (2.2 pound) Sea Bass, a fish with a nice flaky texture and thankfully, not too much ‘pin boning’ required.(It still takes me about 10 minutes to fillet a fish, while professionals do it in less than 2 minutes)!
We then made a yeast dough, letting it double in size, before rolling it out in a rectangular shape.Next, we made a delicious filling made of rice, fresh tarragon, diced salmon, diced mushrooms and fresh quail eggs. The filling was then layered with alternating rows of the sea bass fillets. The quail eggs are optional, but they do look ‘cute’ when you slice into the pie and see them hiding there! The layered filling is then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, cooled in the fridge and then unwrapped on top of the dough.
The dough is then folded inwards, starting with one long edge and followed by the two sides. We then added some dough decorations, brushed the dough with water or egg wash, then baked in the oven for 35 minutes.
This dish is then topped off with a delicious beurre blanc sauce and served with tomatoes stuffed with Broccio cheese. Broccio cheese is a soft cheese from Corsica, but you could also use Ricotta cheese instead.
And what was the result from my class practical? The chef said my dish was ‘delicious’ but scolded me for not keeping my work station clean. No matter how hard I try, it seems that liquids keep on bubbling out of my pans onto the stove surface- impossible to keep immaculate!
Please join me later for my next blog, Boned Quail stuffed with Shitake Mushrooms!
Note: this recipe is quite long, adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe. You can shorten the recipe by leaving out the beurre blanc sauce and the stuffed tomatoes.
- 1 raw sea bass, filleted (or other white fish such as snapper, cod or John Dory)
- 400 g (3 cups) white flour
- 20 g (3 tbsp) fresh compressed yeast
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Pinch salt
- 4 tbsp oil
- 2 eggs
- 100 g (1/2 cup) short-grain rice, cooked
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup fresh uncooked salmon
- ½ bunch tarragon
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 120 g diced mushrooms (about 2 cups)
- 8 quail eggs (optional)
- 20 g (3 tbsp) fresh breadcrumbs
- Salt/pepper to taste
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) white vinegar
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
- 85 ml (1/3 cup) heavy cream
- 140 g (5 oz) cold butter, cubed
- Salt/white pepper
- 8 vine-ripened cocktail (small) tomatoes
- 150 g broocio (or ricotta) cheese
- 2 tbsp olive oil infused with chopped thyme
- 1 basil sprig
- Prep Work: Cook 1 cup short-grain rice: bring 2 cups water to the boil, add the rice and cover with lid, reduce heat to low simmer, cook for 20 minutes or so until the rice is cooked and all moisture has been absorbed. Cook the quail eggs in low boiling water for several minutes and remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 180 C (360 F)
- Prepare Dough: Add 20 g compressed yeast to 125 ml warm water. Add the sugar and salt to the yeast mixture. Add the flour, eggs and 4 tbsp oil. First, beat the eggs individually in a separate bowl, then add to the dough mixture. Knead on flowered surface, put in metal bowl, cover with cloth or paper towel. Let rise until double in size.
- Prepare the Sea Bass or other white fish- make sure the skin has been removed from the fish and all bones removed. Season with salt and pepper and place in fridge while preparing the filling.
- Prepare the Filling: Slice the salmon into small cubes (skin removed) and set aside. Finely chop the onion, add to fry pan with butter and little salt; cover with cartouche (parchment paper) and let onion soften for several minutes.
- Slice the mushrooms finely; Sweat the mushrooms in a little butter with some salt until soft. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, cooked onions, cooked mushrooms, breadcrumbs, finely chopped tarragon (1/2 bunch), chopped parsley and uncooked salmon cubes, salt & pepper.
- Assemble the Coulibiac Filling (refer to the photos with instructions): Spread some filling on top of a sheet of plastic wrap (equal to the length of your fish), then add one slice of Sea Bass or other fish on top followed by ½ of the salmon cubes. Add another layer of filling, then a line of 8 quail eggs touching each other (optional). Repeat the layering as follows: add another layer of filling, a second piece of sea bass, then more filling. Next, roll the cling wrap tightly into a sausage shape, twist ends together and tuck ends under, put into fridge to cool.
- Prepare Beurre Blanc sauce: Prepare the reduction: add 3 finely diced shallots to sauce pan with the white wine vinegar and white wine. Reduce until a glaze forms. Whisk in cold butter cubes a little at a time until thickened. Stir in the cream and strain the sauce. Season with salt and white pepper.
- Prepare Dough: After dough has risen, punch it down and rollout into a rectangular shape on a lightly floured surface. Unwrap the filling from the plastic wrapping and place over dough leaving a margin around sides. Brush outer edges with water. Close one long edge into middle (one farthest away from you), then close the two sides inward (trim a little dough from corners before folding them inward) then fold the other long edge last. Flip dough over so seams are tucked under.
- Brush outside of dough with water with egg wash. Add decorations if desired (the chef placed 3-4 thin ropes of dough and several pom poms around the pastry). Brush with egg wash again.
- Prepare Tomatoes: Cut off very tops and bottoms of the small ‘cocktail’ tomatoes. Scoop out insides with mellon baller. Add some olive oil and salt into a small casserole dish- add the tomatoes into the casserole with the top side facing up (fill pan with sides of tomatoes touching).
- Place the broccio or ricotta cheese into a bowl. Add some chopped basil, thyme-infused oil, and salt/pepper. Place into piping bag and pipe into the tomato shells. Place tops back onto the tomatoes and heat in oven for 5 minutes (not too hot).
- To plate: Slice one piece of the coulibiac pastry onto the plate, add several stuffed tomatoes, basil leaves and a smear of the beurre blanc sauce.