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Deluxe fish pie recipe

fish pie A few months ago a local caterer and superb cook was spotted buying a Waitrose fish pie. When she was asked why she was buying one when she could easily run up a pie herself, her response was clipped.
"I just couldn’t make it for the price."
The story did the rounds in Newmarket and presumably Waitrose fish pie sales soared.

Fish pie is a rare treat as fish is so expensive these days. But with a little patience and forethought you can enjoy a great fish pie for a fraction of the price. Every now and then I shop at Waitrose on a Sunday, half an hour from closing time. Their fish is the best in Newmarket and quite often they have massive reductions. All too often the person ahead of me sweeps the board clean but if I’m lucky I buy fish for the freezer. When I have squirreled away enough fish, I make a pie.

I reckon that an essential ingredient is some traditionally smoked fish. This gives the dish depth. I am loathe to add olives, capers, cornichons. I am a traditional fish pie addict. I want clear fish and seafood flavours. The other fish and seafood that you add can be a mix of anything that appeals.

I reckon that you need about 500g of mixed fish/seafood for this pie. If you make a thick béchamel this pie freezes well.

Deluxe fish pie recipe (for four hungry people)

Ingredients:

250g traditionally smoked undyed haddock fillet
225g fillet of cod
A large handful of cooked prawns (if you are using uncooked prawns add them to the milk when you add the fish)
A large handful of fresh parsley – chopped
500ml – 600ml of milk full fat milk/80g plain flour/60 g butter (for the thick bechamel sauce)
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1-2 tsp of anchovy sauce
Lashings of freshly ground white pepper

Topping

450g of potatoes
25g of butter
2- 4 tblsp of milk
2 dessert spoons of creme fraiche
50 g of mature cheddar cheese (grated)

Method:

Well in advance hard boil your eggs. Peel your potatoes and put them on to boil, when they are cooked, drain them and set them aside in a warm place . Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the fish. Bring to simmering point and let the fish cook gently in the milk for about 6 minutes, add the prawns and cook for a further 2 minutes. Strain and reserve the milk to make your bechamel. Flake the fish and set aside in a warm place. Melt the butter, add the flour and gradually add the warm milk, beating to avoid lumps when this has thickened stir in the chopped parsley, garlic, anchovy sauce and carefully fold in the fish and cooked prawns. Pour into a buttered pie dish and arrange the eggs on the top. Leave in a warm place whilst you prepare your mashed potatoes.

I used a ricer to make mashed potatoes. This speeds up the process and guarantees no lumps. Then I fold in the butter, milk and creme fraiche. Spoon the mashed potatoes onto the fish and eggs, scatter the grated cheese over the top and brown the pie under a low grill for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling.

A light crisp leafy salad goes well with this dish, with a lemon and olive oil dressing.


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15 Comments

  1. I always think that I should try and make a fish pie. Now I have seen yours, I will give it ago. How can a fish pie make me salivate in the morning? I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. Fish pie – my fave food! It’s just so comforting. I’ve just been looking at my exam invigilation dates up to half term – such a lucrative way of doing nothing! – and working out if I need to go to the market early (before 8 am) or if I can go when I have finished for the morning. There is a fish van on the market which never has a vast selection of fish but it is always very fresh and quite reasonably priced for this day and age – he was horrified when I told him how much my mum was paying for cod in Sainsbury’s. I branched out into Cod Mornay recently with mash on the side as a quicker alternative to fish pie – I was cooking for 8 – and actually looked at the instructions for making the white sauce. I spent ages a few weeks ago making a white sauce which tasted floury until I had stirred it over the heat for about 30 mins and realised that the quick secret is to cook the roux for a few mins before adding the hot milk. What a revelation! white sauce in minutes! This wonderful discovery was hidden in the pages of Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course and she goes onto say that you can make up quantities of roux and keep it in the fridge for up to a fortnight ready to fling in sauces as and when you need it! I bought this £30 book before Christmas for £10 in The Works. I wish I had bought a couple more to give as Christmas presents, alas when I went back they had all gone.

  3. Once, my children would eat every morsel I placed on their plates, because I was Mummy and Mummy knew what every little person wanted to eat. Now I am Mum and I am lucky if I am within 30 yards of the culinary jackpot. Sadly the Durham (ie my local) Waitrose is closing so even if their fish pie were better, I won’t be able to benefit! However, one meal I can guarantee that even the most recalcitrant child will eat is fish pie. They all agree that smoked haddock and boiled eggs are essential and 50% of the Smellie family insist on capers too but the remaining 50% are so anti caper as to suggest they should remain an optional extra!

    My friend’s daughter has just come back from Ballymaloe. Her mother and I are obscenely jealous but on the other hand the canapes that she cooked at a party last weekend were divine and if I can’t go to Ballymaloe then perhaps I can just eat Alex’s food instead!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Serena

    Fish pie is so easy to make and real comfort food. It’s fun playing about with the fishy ingredients too.

    Hi Pamela

    That™s a great tip about the roux storing well in the fridge. I’ve seen that book (at the proper price) and coveted it.

    I attended a bread making course at the Ballymalloe Cookery School and it was wonderful! We have several of Darina Allen’s cookery books as Danny is Irish and sometimes I like to cook the things that he ate when he was a child.

    Hi Gillie

    What a shame that your local Waitrose is closing. Ah temting children to eat… unfortunately I don’t have children but I have met some teeny Tatars in my time and I agree with you fish pie always seems to vanish. With only Danny to please life is a lot easier, although here was a mutter when I forgot the parsley last time!

    Ballymaloe is a wonderful place and the courses are great!

  5. Kate(uk)

    Tesco do a good “fish Pie mix’ of fresh and smoked fish, my daughter and I road tested it a couple of weeks ago- excellent for kedgeree and for pie!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Kate(uk)

    Thanks for the tip, I must look out for the fish pie mix.

  7. Minamoo

    I made a fish pie for supper on Sunday night and Peter loved it! It had a little twist though as I added a couple of chopped sticks of celery (I love the celery-fish combo, I just think they complement each other so well!) and lots of sliced St George’s mushrooms. They are in season at the moment and are popping up all over. Keep your eyes peeled for fairy rings and the round, white mushrooms in them could very well be the wonderful Calocybe Gambosa. Anyhoo..the texture of them in the pie was fantastic. They stay white when cooked so blended in with the fish but they have a wonderful chewy texture to them totally unlike the usual cultivated agaricus you find in supermarkets. They also have this slightly mealy smell that tasted almost like smoked fish when it was in the pie. If any of you come across these mushrooms I highly recommend that you try adding them to your next fish pie!

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Minamoo

    The addition of celery is a brilliant idea!

    I must keep my eyes peeled for the mushrooms. Fish pie is a favourite here and this is a great twist. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Richard

    I’v got some smoked Haddock from Seahouses that I wanted to make into either a pie or cakes. I’ve now made up my mind……Pie!
    Thanks

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Richard

    Great choice! Hope that it works out well for you.

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