Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Hearty Fish Pie

Food doesn't get much more British than a hearty fish pie. It is believed that it was brought to our shores by the Romans, who would prepare a similar dish when they were on a fast day (for example during Lent when they could not eat meat). A variety of poached fish and seafood, covered in a white sauce and topped with mashed potatoes (the original versions probably had a pastry lid), it is an easy and simple way to enjoy fish.

I have always thought, however, that it can be a little bland and plain. As such, it is important to try to get extra flavour into it somehow. Although pretty much any fish can be used I think smoked fish should be in there in some form as this will infuse its flavour throughout the cooking. I also added a layer of fried onions to the pie - I have not heard of this before but I think it helped. One final adaptation was to stir some wholegrain mustard in the mashed potatoes. This seemed to work really well with the smoky flavour from the fish.

This recipe should make enough to feed 6 big appetites.


Topping -
1.5kg potatoes
100g butter
2 tsp wholegrain mustard

Filling -
1kg fish/seafood (try to ensure that atleast 300g of this is a smoked fish)
1 litre whole milk
2 bay leaves
8 peppercorns
50g butter
4 tbsp flour
2 medium onions
3 hard-boiled eggs
parsley (other herbs such as dill or chervil would also work well)


1. First, peel and cut the potatoes and boil for about 20-25mins until tender. When cooked, mash the potatoes along with the butter and mustard, then season liberally with salt and pepper.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, slowly fry the sliced onions until soft and sticky.

3. Place the milk in a pan with the bay leaves and peppercorns and bring to a slow boil. Poach the fish, in batches if necessary, for 3-4mins or until it flakes easily when handled.
When finished, strain the poaching liquid.

4. Next, melt the butter in a pan and then add the flour to make a roux. Then slowly add the milk reserved from cooking the fish. Gradually heat until it thickens and then add the parsley and season well with salt and pepper.

5. Cover the bottom of a roasting dish with the fish, cover with the onions, the eggs (quartered) and then pour over the sauce. Finally, top with the mashed potatoes and place into an oven at 180C for about 30-40mins.

We served ours simply with some braised red cabbage. Delicious.

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