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Friday, April 6, 2012

Phyllo Wrapped Salmon

A little pastry makes everything more delicious.  So does a little dijon mustard.  And butter.

The idea for this dish is not mine, but I've been making them for so many years that I no longer have the original recipe to attribute to.  It took me some time to work up the guts to try this recipe in the first place.  I was afraid of working with phyllo dough.  So many recipes that use it give caution after caution...handle it gently lest it break...work quickly lest it dry out...keep it covered at all times with a damp towel...brush lightly...fold carefully...it just seemed like a food product that was more trouble than it was worth.  Boy, was I wrong! 

First of all, phyllo is not hard to work with.  It may tear a bit...that's OK.  It may get a bit dry as you work...that's OK.  You don't really need to be working at super-speed or with damp towels or anything like that.  Most preparations using phyllo involve brushing oil or butter between the layers and as we  know, butter fixes everything.  It works as a glue to hold the phyllo sheets in place, it patches tears, it moisturizes dry dough.  You and your phyllo will be A-OK. 

Where to get phyllo?  If you're really bonkers, you can make it yourself (I most emphatically do not).  It comes frozen, usually in the area where frozen pies and Cool Whip live (usually next to the puff pastry).  You'll need to put it in the fridge overnight or on the counter for about 4 hours before it's workable.  The brand I buy comes in 1 lb. boxes which contain two plastic-sealed tubes of rolled phyllo sheets.  You'll only need one tube for this recipe.  You can use the 2nd tube to make more of this recipe or make some genuine Greek goodies like spanakopita (spinach and cheese pies), teropita (like spanakopita, but without the spinach) or baklava. 

If you make these ahead to freeze, you will need to be attentive to wrapping them very, very well in plastic wrap.  In prepping them to cook immediately, you don't need to worry so much about the phyllo drying out, but for longer storage, drying does become a problem.  I wrap each packet individually in plastic wrap before putting them in a larger ziptop bag to make very sure they're protected.  And then of course, when you bake them off, a healthy brush of oil or butter goes a long way toward correcting any freezer dehydration they may have suffered.

Phyllo-wrapped Salmon Packets
Makes 8-12 servings

2 lbs. skinless salmon, cut into crosswise strips about 2" wide (8-12 pieces)
1/2 of a 1 lb. package of phyllo dough, thawed
dijon mustard to taste
black pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil or melted butter (or cooking spray) + 1/4 cup oil or butter for baking

Set up your work area...cutting board where you'll place the phyllo to work with in front of you (oriented so the narrow end of the phyllo will be closest to you), unrolled phyllo dough to one side, fish portions to the other side, oil/butter and pastry brush on the side of your dominant hand, mustard and pepper nearby. 

Salmon ready to roll...start at the
end closest to you
Unroll the phyllo sheets.  Place 1 sheet on your main work surface.  Brush it with butter or oil (or spray it thoroughly with cooking spray).  Place another sheet on top (they don't have to match up perfectly, and wrinkles/tears are ok).  Brush with more oil/butter (or cooking spray). 

Place a portion of salmon in the middle of the narrow end closest to you.  Spoon about 1 tsp (or more or less, to taste) of mustard on top of the salmon.  Add a grind of pepper. 

Fold the narrow end of the phyllo over the salmon.  Fold the sides of the phyllo in, and continue to roll the packet up.  Set aside.  Continue with remaining phyllo and salmon. 

Finished wraps
When all are rolled, either set on a baking tray for same day cooking or wrap each packet in plastic wrap to freeze.  Cover the baking sheet very well with plastic wrap, if cooking same day, or put all the packets in a big ziptop bag for freezing.

To bake, unwrap packets and let them thaw on a baking tray.  Brush tops with additional butter or oil right before baking.  Bake 20 minutes at 375F. Pin It


  1. So, do you use butter, cooking spray or olive oil? Any one of the three work better than the others?

    1. I use butter. I think it has the best flavor. I have also used olive oil which works well but has a different flavor result. I have not actually tried cooking spray, but I have read this tip elsewhere and wanted to pass it on since it does seem like it would be a bit tidier than brushing oil or melted butter on the phyllo.