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Rasstegai – Small Russian Fish Pies

These charming pies are the traditional accompaniment to, Ukha (a fish soup). Their name comes from the Russian rasstegnut’, ‘to come undone’, because the pies fanciful shape (with their filling exposed) makes one suspect they’ve popped open in the baking. In the past, when appetites were larger, rasstegai were often made the size of a salad plate.

Rasstegai - Small Russian Fish Pies
These charming pies are the traditional accompaniment to, Ukha (a fish soup). Their name comes from the Russian rasstegnut', 'to come undone', because the pies fanciful shape (with their filling exposed) makes one suspect they've popped open in the baking. In the past, when appetites were larger, rasstegai were often made the size of a salad plate.
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 30 g butter, melted
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 225 g fish fillets (trout is especially good)
  • 30 g butter
  • 120 g mushrooms, minced
  • 120 g smoked salmon
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water along with the sugar. Then stir in the melted butter, egg yolks, salt, and milk which has been heated to lukewarm. Mix in the flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on to a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top of the dough. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Saute the fillets in half the butter until they are done. Saute the minced mushrooms in butter for just a few minutes. Flake the fish into a bowl and stir in the mushrooms, the smoked salmon which has been finely chopped, the parsley and the sour cream. Add pepper to taste.
  3. When the dough has risen, knock it back and then turn it out on to a floured board. Roll it out very thinly and with a 5 cm biscuit cutter, cut out 2 dozen rounds. On each round of dough place a heaped tablespoon of the filling down the centre.
  4. Now shape the rasstegai. Starting just to the left of centre of one of the rounds, bring two edges together to meet. Overlap one edge over the other to seal, and seal the left side of the pie. Now bring the two edges of dough together just to the right of the centre of the pie, overlapping one edge over the other and sealing the whole side. The result is an enclosed pie with a hole 3 cm in diameter in the top centre. Flare the edges of dough around the hole slightly to make it look rounder. Continue in this manner until all the pies have been shaped.
  5. Place the pies on a greased baking tray. Cover and leave to rise until almost doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Brush the pies with a mixture of egg yolk and cold water. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the pies for 15 minutes, until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes
Makes 2 dozen pies.

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