Sliced open, these beautifully browned rolls reveal white, green, and pink layers -- pike fillet, pike farce, cabbage, and a center of salmon fillet. They are served with Basmati rice and a tomato sauce which is more of a coulis than a thin sauce, and asparagus inside crisply fried spring roll wrappers. The caul fat mentioned is a very thin membrane which is used to encase the rolls and hold them together; it melts and bastes the outside of the cabbage rolls as they bake. You will need to ask your butcher for it. The rice is flavored with an onion to which a bay leaf is pinned with two cloves; this is called an onion piquet and is often used to add flavor, then removed at the end of the cooking process.
- Onion - 1/2
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Cloves - 2
- Olive Oil - 1/2 tablespoon
- Basmati Rice - 1 cup
- Water - 1-1/2 cups
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Pike Rolls
- Pike Fillets - 2, about 8 ounces each, skin on
- Pike meat - 4 ounces, skinned (pieces and scraps are fine)
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 4 ounces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Caul Fat - 2 pieces
- Cabbage Leaves - 4 large, cleaned, rib removed, blanched
- Salmon fillets - 2 small, 4 ounces each
- Fine Bread Crumbs - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons, softened
- Tomato Sauce
- Garlic Clove - 1 large, peeled and crushed
- Ripe Tomatoes - 3 large, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Pinch of sugar
- Dry white wine - 2 tablespoons
- Tomato Juice - 1 cup
- Fresh Basil Leaves - 10 - 12 small
- Asparagus Crisps
- Spring roll wrappers - 8 sheets,round
- Asparagus Stalks - 8, tough part trimmed, blanched
- Canola oil for deep-frying
- Basil Sprigs - 4
To prepare the rice: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the bay leaf over the cut surface of the onion and pin it in place at each end with the cloves. Put the oil and rice into an ovenproof pan which has a cover. Place over medium heat and stir, coating the rice with the oil, until the rice is just warm to the touch. Bring the water to a boil and pour into the warmed rice. Add the salt and spiced onion and bring the mixture back to a boil. Cover and put in the oven; bake 20 minutes.
To prepare the pike rolls: Feel the pike fillets for bones; pull out any that remain. Cut down the center of the pike fillets end to end, half way through. Turn the knife on its side and cut the fillet in half crosswise almost to the edge, left and right, then open out like a book. Set aside. Put the four ounces of pike meat and bits and heavy cream into the bowl of a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse 8 or 10 times, running the machine for longer periods of time toward the end, until this farce mixture is fluffy.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Rub the bottom of a baking pan with a bit of butter. Spread plastic wrap on a work surface. Spread one of the pieces of caul fat on the plastic wrap, and place the largest cabbage on the caul fat. Open one of the pike fillets on the cabbage leaf, skin-side down, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the pike fillet with the pike farce. Roll one piece of salmon into a long thin piece about the length of the pike fillet. Roll the salmon up in the smallest cabbage leaf and place it in the center of the pike fillet. Spread lightly with farce again. Roll up the pike fillet and large cabbage leaf together around the salmon center, then roll up the caul fat around it to hold everything in place; press the caul fat against itself to hold. Set in the roasting pan and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Dust outsides of the cabbage rolls with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.
To prepare the tomato sauce: Put the oil and garlic clove into a medium saute pan or skillet over medium heat and warm together, moving the garlic clove around the pan and pressing down with the back of a spatula to flavor the oil. Remove the garlic and discard. Put the tomatoes, salt, and sugar in the pan and toss or stir together. Add the wine and tomato juice. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is reduced by half in volume and thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the small basil leaves.
To prepare the asparagus crisps: Spread the spring roll wrappers on a work surface. Pat the asparagus stalks absolutely dry. Place an asparagus stalk at the edge of one wrapper and roll up the wrapper around the asparagus. Set aside; repeat with remaining wrappers and asparagus. Heat the oil to 360 F. in a deep fryer or deep saucepan. Fry the wrapped asparagus until golden and crisp, about 1 minute, turning to brown all sides. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
To serve: Remove the onion from the rice and fluff the rice with a fork. Divide the rice among the plates, putting a small mound to one side of each plate. Spoon tomato sauce next to each. Place two asparagus crisps across the rice and tomato sauce. Slice the cabbage rolls into thick slices and divide among the plates, arranging them on the other side of the plate from the rice and sauce. Garnish each with a sprig of basil.