I learned how to make this Finnish Salmon Pie at a cooking demonstration given by a Finnish diplomat’s wife over 30 years ago. Back then fresh salmon was not so readily available and everyone used tins. In fact I don’t think I tasted fresh salmon until I was in my twenties!
The original recipe used two large tins of salmon. I now make it using a combination of fresh and tinned. If preferred use just salmon. The butter and dill sauce is an optional addition. Not on the agenda if you’re watching cholesterol levels, but quite delicious. The cucumber salad is a perfect accompaniment.
If you’re not sure what a Swiss roll tin looks like have a look at these images on Google. Mine is about 25x30cm. If your tin is bigger just roll out the pastry to about this size.
Finnish Salmon Pie
Ricotta Cheese Pastry:
2 Tbs chopped fresh dill
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 Tbs cream
100g butter, melted
2-3 Tbs chopped dill
Pastry: Place flour and butter in food processor and process until it forms crumbs. Add cottage cheese and process. As soon as the pastry starts to stick together add just enough water so that it forms into a ball – you may not even need any water, depending how wet your ricotta is. Stop motor immediately, tip out, wrap in plastic wrap and chill while you prepare the filling.
Filling: Cook rice and eggs together in boiling water to cover for 10 minutes. Tip into a sieve and allow the rice to drain. Put the eggs back in the pan, cover with cold water and leave until cool enough to handle, then peel. Remove skin and any bones from fresh salmon, then cut into 1-2cm dice. Place in a bowl with the canned salmon (discard skin and bones), the rice, dill and hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped. Mix well and season to taste.
Place a piece of baking paper on a Swiss roll tin – not essential but makes washing up easier. On a floured surface roll out pastry to the size of the Swiss roll tin, then place on the baking paper, folding it to make it easier to move. It doesn’t matter if the edges are ragged, you won’t see them once the pie is finished. Place salmon filling down centre in the shape of a log or loaf and covering about a third of the pastry surface. Cut diagonal slits in pastry every 2cm down each side, from the edge of the pastry as far as the filling. Fold in the two ends, then bring up strips from alternate sides, overlapping them slightly, to form a pseudo-plait. Use your hands to push everything firmly into place. Can be refrigerated at this stage if you like. Paint with beaten egg and bake for 30-40 minutes at 200°C. Serve warm, cut into slices and drizzled with the sauce.
Sauce: Melt butter and mix with chopped dill.
Variations: use white fish and canned tuna instead of the salmon.
Cucumber Salad with Dill
4-5 Lebanese cucumbers (about 15cm long) or 2 longer telegraph cucumbers
1 medium brown onion
1/3 cup vinegar (cider or white wine)
¼ cup water
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
¼ cup sugar
½ cup thick sour cream
½ tsp hot English-style mustard
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, firmly packed
Peel onion, cut in half and slice thinly. Slice unpeeled cucumbers thinly and mix with onions. The quickest way to do this is with the slicing blade of a food processor.
Mix vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Pour over onions and cucumbers, mix well and leave for 1-2 hours at room temperature, mixing from time to time. Drain cucumbers and onion in a colander or large sieve. Discard the juices. Put the colander in a bowl, so it continues to drain, then put it in the fridge, covered and leave it there draining till serving time. In a small bowl, mix sour cream, mustard, fresh dill and pepper to taste and refrigerate till serving time.
To serve, mix well-drained cucumbers and onions with the sour cream dressing. Garnish with sprigs of dill.
This salad goes well with most fish dishes, especially salmon. It’s also a good addition to a buffet or BBQ.