Salmon in phyllo a secret delight

Susan Selasky
Detroit Free Press (TNS)

Salmon is often a crowd-pleaser.

A dish of salmon wrapped in crispy, buttery and well-seasoned phyllo dough was one of the courses served at the Free Press/Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Top 10 Takeover dinner earlier this month at Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails in Detroit. The restaurant was named the restaurant of the year.

The salmon, hefty pieces cut on the diagonal, was moist and perfectly done. The

menu described the dish as Skuna Bay Salmon with phyllo, pickled summer peppers, mustard cream and Gass Farms frisee. Skuna Bay Salmon, according to, is raised by craftmen farmers. The company also refers to its salmon as Vancouver Island Craft-raised Salmon.

This salmon has a mild taste, but is firm. A firm salmon, or other fish, is the ideal candidate for wrapping in phyllo dough, as Chartreuse chef Doug Hewitt did for the dinner. Because it’s firm, it holds together and doesn’t fall apart when you slice it.

Buttery: The phyllo dough also plays a role in keeping the dish together.

What’s tasty about this recipe is that after each layer is buttered, it is sprinkled with some bread crumbs and seasoned with salt and pepper. Doing so creates a nice buttery and seasoned taste with each bite.

Hewitt added another layer of flavor to the salmon by stuffing it with a herb-seasoned salmon and shrimp mousse. Once cooked the mousse turns out soft and tender and is a nice blend with the firm salmon.

Tissue-thin layers of phyllo can be buttered and filled with just about anything. At first, phyllo takes patience. But once you get the hang of it, you will find yourself using it for lots of things.

Most grocery stores sell frozen phyllo in a roll. For fresh phyllo dough, check Middle Eastern and Greek specialty stores.

I’ve been buying the smaller size sheets (perfect for this recipe) because they are easier to work with. They come two rolls to a package. The most common brand is Athens.

When working with phyllo, always keep it covered with a damp, cotton (not terry) kitchen cloth or paper

towel. If you don’t, it will dry out quickly and you can’t use it. And, when brushing sheets with the melted butter, it’s best to do so in streaks, taking care not to saturate them. Too much butter and the sheets will tear.

The two roll package is ideal because once thawed, phyllo doesn’t re-freeze well. For today’s recipe you’ll need just one roll. And you might have a few leftover sheets. You might also have leftover mousse. If so, wrap about 2 tablespoons of the mousse in the leftover sheets and fold into a triangular shape and bake along with the salmon.

Salmon Wrapped in Phyllo With Dijon Mustard Cream

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

4 salmon filets (about 4-5 ounces each) without skin


1/4 pound salmon, cut into chunks

1/4 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined

1 egg white

2 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Zest of half a lemon

2 teaspoons fresh chopped chervil

2 teaspoons fresh chopped tarragon

1 teaspoon parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 cup clarified butter (you won’t use it all)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

8 sheets phyllo dough

Dijon Cream Sauce (see note)

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add the salmon, shrimp, egg white and cream and process until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and fold in the zest and chopped herbs, and season with salt and pepper.

Make a slice in the side of the salmon filet and fill with mousse. It’s OK if it spills out because it will be wrapped in the phyllo.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to

375 degrees. Place one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board or clean counter top. Brush with butter in light streaks and dust with bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Add another phyllo sheet and butter. Add the

stuffed salmon on phyllo, season again with salt and pepper. Roll the phyllo around the salmon, encasing it “burrito style.”

Brush with butter and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining phyllo dough and mousse-stuffed salmon. Bake at 375 about 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking process. Remove from oven, cool slightly. Using a serrated knife, slice in half on the diagonal. Serve with a dollop of the Dijon Cream Sauce and frisee salad lightly dressed with a mild vinaigrette and sprinkled with radish slices.

Cook’s note: To make the Dijon Cream Sauce, whisk together 1 container (5.3 ounces) of plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt, 1 heaping table­spoon of Dijon mustard and 1 table­spoon heavy whipping cream. Taste and add more Dijon if needed. There should be a balance of creamy and tangy.

Adapted from Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails, Detroit. Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen at the Great Lakes Culinary Center in Southfield, Michigan. Nutrition information not available.