Bread/ Main Dish/ Russian Monday

Russian Monday: “Kulebyaka” – Authentic Russian Salmon Pie with Rice, Mushrooms, Onions and Dill

Today in our Russian section we present “Kulebyaka”. This traditional pie is an ideal dish for special occasions and it makes a perfect brunch. My daughter helped me to make it – we’ve been preparing dough, making crêpes used in stuffing and decorated the pie together. As we were cooking, I have shared with her the story of this dish and how it should be served. I hope you are interested too, so here it is.

“Kulebyaka” (or “kulebyak”) is a closed pie with complex staffing; it is traditional for Russian cuisine. It is mentioned by many writers in their novels, for example by Gogol in his “Dead Souls”. The main distinction of kulebyaka from other pies is its complex staffing. Often it’s made from few types of ground meat or fish, eggs, rice, cabbage, mushrooms, layered with crêpes to prevent different types of staffing from getting mixed up. When you cut the pie every slice of it has every kind of staffing. Usually, kulebyaka is made from yeast-based dough, but puff pastry or fresh dough also can be used.

Traditionally, decorations are dough made “pigtails” or “branches” placed on the top of the pie which is greased with egg after being decorated. Few tiny holes made with the fork help to keep the density of the pie consistent across all layers while it is being baked.

Kulebyaka is served cut into pieces in such a manner that every piece would have all layers of staffing. It goes well with melted butter or sour cream if the pie is the main dish, but if served with soup butter or sour cream is not used.

This is very simple kulebyaka, it has only 2 layers, usually, there are 4 or 5 layers of stuffing.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
By Yelena Strokin Serves: 10 people


  • For the dough:
  • 4 cups (500g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup (200ml) warm milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 Tbsp. butter (100g), melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk for egg wash to finish the pie
  • For the crêpes:
  • 1 cup (200ml) milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • For the fish stuffing:
  • 1 1/2 lb. skinned salmon fillet
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. dry white wine
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • For the mushroom stuffing:
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium chopped yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms (of your choice), brushed clean and thinly sliced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped



To make a dough: In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm milk; put it aside for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to foam. In a large bowl, combine the flour with salt. Add eggs, melted butter and yeast mixture. Knead until dough is well mixed. Cover with an overturned bowl or loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.


To make the crêpes: Brush a crêpes pan with a little oil and heat. Ladle in a little bate and tilt the pan to cover the bottom thinly. Cook the crêpe for 1 minute. As soon as little holes appear all over the surface, turn the crêpe over and cook the other side for 30 to 40 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cook the rest of the batter, stacking the crêpes interleaved with waxed paper as they are cooked. You should have 7-8 crêpes.


To poach salmon: fill medium shallow saucepan or skillet with enough water to cover about two-thirds of the salmon fillet. Bring water to a gentle boil over medium heat. Add the wine, thyme, salt, pepper and salmon, cook 10 minutes or until salmon just begins to flake. Remove salmon from poaching water and cool. Flake into bite-sized pieces.


To make a mushroom stuffing: In a deep, ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add chopped onion, garlic, the salt, and pepper. Cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms and sauté a little more 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice and cooked eggs. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the fresh dill.


Assembling the kulebyaka: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough. Cover with the 3 cold crêpes. Down the middle, lay fish stuffing. Cover with 2-3 cold crêpes. On a top lay mushroom stuffing and cover with the rest of the crêpes. Fold the crêpes over and brush the edges of the dough with egg wash (1 egg yolk + 2 Tbsp. milk or water + a pinch of salt). Fold one of the longer sides of the dough over crêpe-wrapped stuffing. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash, then bring the other side up over the first side. Fold up the ends. Turn the kulebyaka over onto a baking sheet and start your decorations.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C.


After decorations, brush kulebyaka with egg wash completely. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Serve the kulebyaka whole at the table and slice with a very sharp knife. You can serve it hot or at room temperature.

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  • Reply
    Eric Pepple
    June 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Wow that is absolutely stunning, just perfect. Fantastic job, this sounds delicious!

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  • Reply
    Rosa's Yummy Yums
    June 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Wow, what a fantastic and luxurious pie! Really mouthwatering.



  • Reply
    June 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    i saw your pie on facebook posted by Rosa and i followed the link to here, this is fantastic.. i love to try it one day.. i bookmarked the recipe.. thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    June 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you Arlette for stopping by, we had fun with my daughter making this dish. It takes some time, but it worth it. Let me know if you try it one day.

  • Reply
    rustykalna kuchnia
    June 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Красивый кулебяка – Я люблю с квашеной капустой и грибами. Привет из Польши

  • Reply
    Rosangela Cunha
    June 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm


  • Reply
    Elen Smirnova
    June 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    My respect from Russia!
    Your pie is absolutely amazing and beautiful! A very-very hard work! Even not every Russian woman could do it! Fantastic!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you so much Elen and nice to meet you. I love to cook and this dish I wanted to make for a long time. We had a good time cooking kulebyaka!-)

  • Reply
    Kim Bultman
    June 3, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Oh, what a beautiful dish! Your writing and photos enhanced every potential morsel. I had to bookmark this, Yelena… it spoke to my heart!

  • Reply
    Helene Dsouza
    June 4, 2013 at 11:24 am

    wow that's a dish I hadn't come across yet. My friend will know it for sure, I better show her your kulbyaka. Alright, once I get a hand on salmon I ll make this. I think salmon is the only choice right? I mean it wouldn't taste that exceptional without the salmon and with another fish type instead, or what do you suggest?

  • Reply
    June 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I love authentic recipe..This looks fabulous…Love it…I bet it would have tasted amazing!
    Shema | LifeScoops

  • Reply
    La Table De Nana
    June 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Everything is a work of art..The detailing of this dish is just gorgeous and of course your styling and photography..

    How beautiful.

  • Reply
    Sandra Mihic
    June 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Yelena, what a great job on the pastry…just beautiful and I am sure the whole pie is very delicious. Looking at the recipe you did tremendous amount of work, but I know it's all worth it!Have a fantastic week!!!!

  • Reply
    June 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Helene Dsouza, you can use almost any kind of fish, but salmon goes perfect for this pie. Let me know on your decision.

  • Reply
    June 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I know I voted for more Russian recipes, but now I am overwhelmed and intimidated. This looks delicious and beautiful but I know its something I, lacking both skills and time, will never attempt! Can you post some "everyday" Russian recipes next?

    Love the samovar, BTW! Great photo!

  • Reply
    June 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Nikev, I am planning a very simple recipe for next russian Monday. I know I overdid it a little-))) I wanted to show my readers that Russian cuisine can be very interesting and beautiful! Next time – simple food, I promise.

  • Reply
    Nami | Just One Cookbook
    June 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Love this Russian savory pie! Although I've never had it, I already know I'll enjoy this very much! It's so fun and interesting to see what kind of traditional/typical food you enjoy at home. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 20, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Gorgeous pie: love the pattern on top! And what a pretty and shiny samovar!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    My family made a fish pie using salmon and something called Visiga – would anyone know what Visiga is in English and where it could be purchased on line?

  • Reply
    October 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    momo, vesiga is marrow taken from the spinal cord of a European sturgeon fish (not American). It looks like a long white sausage when fresh and like a wrinkled shoelace when dried. It is then reconstituted by soaking and boiling. See photos here: The photos were taken at the Passmore Ranch near Sacramento, CA which raises fish and sells fish and caviar to chefs. You can contact them online, but I believe the vesiga was a gift and not a product. I have contacted a friend in Russia to ask if it is sold in markets.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    …no, it is not sold in Russian stores any more. People haven't seen it for years. The are just too few European sturgeons now. I imagine you would not go to Russia anyway to get it, but the Russians suggested that people are still using it in Siberia 🙂

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