This Russian Delicacy Was One Of Prince Philip's Favorite Foods

Anyone who knew Prince Philip could tell you about how much he loved food. According to Hello!, the Prince fancied himself as a self-reliant cook, avidly grilled for the royal family up to five times a week when they vacationed in Balmoral, and once even walked into the royal kitchen and took over the preparation of lamb from the head chef. With a penchant for food, Prince Philip had a variety of favorite meals, but one Russian dish ranked above all others. 

Darren McGrady, the former Royal chef, told Delish that the Prince loved salmon coulibiac, a dish that features a puff pastry loaded with salmon, seasoning, and vegetables. This salmon dish has a long history and ties to the upper crust of French and Russian society. According to Fine Dining Lovers, French chefs adapted the modern salmon coulibiac from the Russian original, which used buckwheat instead of rice and sturgeon instead of salmon. The original even featured some extra spinal marrow from the sturgeon. The French version of the dish took form after chef Auguste Escoffier served the salmon-and-rice version to homesick Russian naval officers. Escoffier loved the adaption of the dish and included it in his cookbook, Le Guide Culinaire. Julia Child used recipes from this same cookbook to develop modern French cooking and helped spread the popularity of salmon coulibiac.

The perfect marriage of salmon and pastry

Anyone looking to treat themself to a time-tested favorite should give Prince Philip's favorite meal a shot. This ornate dish features mushrooms, rice, salmon, and spinach seasoned with dill, shallots, and white wine (via A Spicy Perspective). Certain versions of this dish also feature an ornately-shaped puff pastry exterior, perfectly sculpted to look like a fish, complete with scales and fins, according to Fine Dining Lovers. Finding this historic treat on modern menus proves difficult. According to Forman and Field, you can potentially order a pre-made coulibiac online from the UK, but it lacks the ornate pastry designs we might find on the homemade variety. 

Times haven't changed too much either. According to The New York Times, you would have an equally difficult time trying to track one of these historic pastries down in any fine dining establishment in 1976 New York. When it comes to properly enjoying one of these show-stopping entrees, you would have the most luck taking the time to assemble the dish at home. The effort all pays off, as the decadence of the meal compares to that of high-quality caviar, making it very apparent as to why salmon coulibiac ranked as one of Prince Philip's favorite dishes.

Salmon coulibiac is a dish fit for the court

While the salmon coulibiac's lineage stems directly from the Russian kiulibiak, the dish has even older roots. According to The New York Times, the Russian version entered Eastern European kitchens thanks to German immigrants, who brought along the predecessor to the dish, the kohlgeback. This original dish took the very basic elements of coulibiac and ran with them in the most accessible ways ever. This German dish consisted of chopped cabbage surrounded by a pastry, making it an extremely simple dish to find ingredients for and lacked the later opulence of the coulibiac. Over time, the kohlgeback evolved into a meal that demanded technical know-how, enough prep time to intricately shape the pastry, and some of the finest ingredients fit for a prince. 

Prince Philip not only enjoyed the dish, he partook in a custom recipe that chef McGrady made just for the royal family. According to Delish, McGrady substituted tarragon in for dill to give the dish a special twist. McGrady also believes that you can substitute quinoa or another favored pulse for the rice to suit your own preference. The Prince also loved to enjoy the dish with a special side sauce, made from pepper, garlic, rosemary, and chicken broth pureed together. But not too much garlic, as that's one ingredient that the Queen can't stand.

A true foodie at heart

The Prince truly loved food and always helped the kitchen whenever he could. Philip, an avid fly-fisher (via Total Fishing), sometimes helped supply the kitchen with the salmon used in the dish and remarkably once gave the live fish straight to the chefs to prepare (via Delish). So, in fact, Prince Philip left a personal touch on his favorite dish for his whole family to enjoy. Between the Prince's contribution of fresh-caught salmon and the royal kitchen's tailoring of salmon coulibiac, it's easy to see why this dish became such a hit.

With an ornate treat like salmon coulibiac, it's no wonder that Prince Philip took so fondly to this dish that serves up a whole meal in one slice. When you need to impress guests and feel ready to embark on a true culinary undertaking, give salmon coulibiac a shot to discover the dish that won a food lover like Prince Philip over. Anyone could appreciate the dish for its technical prowess alone.