The Cottage Smallholder

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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)


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


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


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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  1. Victoria

    Stumbled accords your page thanks to google.

    Picked up some waitrose mixed fish pie mix and didn’t know what to do with it, used your recipe – delicious!

    Thank you!

  2. Hi! I’ve only just joined after trying your slow cooked pork belly the other day. We have a slow cooking electric oven as part of our range and so put them in before we went to work. When we returned 10 – 12 hours later they were incredible!!! THANKS!!

    Anyway… Fish pie!

    We’ve fallen in love with fish pie again recently. The method I’ve been using is…

    Chop cod, smoked haddock and salmon into large lumps (gold ball sized if possible) and place in the bottom of an oven proof dish, sprinkle king prawns and mussel meat over the mixture.

    Make up a roux and when topped up with milk (we’ve been using semi-skimmed to make it a bit healthier) add a couple of bay leaves. When thick chuck in a handful of chopped parsley.

    Pour the parsley sauce over the fish and mix in to coat everything. Top with nice smooth mash and sprinkle some cheese over the top.

    Bake for 40 – 45 minutes at about 200°C

    VERY tasty indeed! 🙂

  3. NotDelia

    Thanks for your answer and sorry I missed your reply until now. We can get some nice fresh white fish here (eg tilapia, snapper, sea bass and “Pacific Dory” – which I believe is catfish) but I’ve never found anything I like as much as fresh or smoked cod or haddock. We can get frozen (unsmoked)cod and haddock here but it tastes fishy to me and I don’t like it.

    I discovered a couple of recipes in magazines for tea smoking, which I tried in my Le Creuset steamer but it didn’t work. I think the lid wasn’t tight-fitting enough.

    I’d definitely be interested to read more about curing the fish and smoking it in a biscuit tin. This is something I would have to try!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hello NotDelia

    The trick is curing the fish. It can be smoked in a biscuit tin after this. Otherwise smoked papricka and a dash of anchovy essence works wonders.

  5. I agree about Waitrose fish pie. I managed to find one in a Bangkok supermarket recently. It was rather expensive – but worth it! I usually make my own fish pies but it’s so far been impossible to get the right kind of smoked fish in SE Asia (where I am currently) and I also agree that smoked cod or haddock adds depth. If only I could get it…

    I’ve even been wondering about building our own home-made smoker.

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