Coulibiac is the French name for the Russian dish Kulebiaka. Traditionally, it consists of fish (usually salmon), baked in a brioche crust with rice, egg, and mushrooms, seasoned with lemon and dill. It’s one of those seriously old-school recipes that would be right at home on a table laid by Carême. Or it would be if you made it with an entire fish, and then shaped the brioche crust to look like a fish complete with glistening egg-washed scales and maybe an olive for the eye.
By comparison, my recipe is simple, though it looks like a monster undertaking. (Writing it all down was no walk in the park, I’ll tell you that.) But if you’re organized, you really can do all the prep while you’re waiting for the brioche to rise. I made a few changes to the traditional dish, swapping out the rice in favor of quinoa and adding a hint of ginger. I replaced the dill with fresh chives, because I thought they would be a better complement to the ginger. I also omitted the egg, as it seemed extraneous. And I threw some whole wheat flour into the brioche dough to increase the whole-grain factor.
After setting the brioche dough aside to rest, I started with the mushrooms. Sautéed in butter and seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh ginger, then finished with white wine and fresh chives, I could have eaten these on their own. But they were destined for bigger things, so I set them aside to keep the brioche company. While they were cooking, I simmered the quinoa in water seasoned with salt and ginger. I undercooked it slightly in hopes that it would come out of the final dish perfectly cooked. Lemon zest and more chives brightened up the flavor and then that, too, had to wait.