The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to make a deluxe fish pie for less – well worth considering as it’s brain food.

Photo: Fish Pie and crisp salad

Photo: Fish Pie and crisp salad

Back in the 1990’s I discovered that I disliked poached salmon. A friend used to stay for the weekend every couple of weeks and she’d bring fresh salmon down as a treat. I made the mistake of enthusing when she produced it the first time. I should have known better – I had eaten a vile dish of curried chick peas for years with another friend. When I originally tasted the chick pea concoction my reaction was a shriek of horror which I attempted to disguise as a sob of delight.

Unfortunately, she was fooled.

Poached salmon also seemed to be a regular lunch party dish in the 1990’s. I forced it down with loads of salt and pepper and libations of wine. A large whisky before supper helped to deal with the fresh salmon experience chez moi.

When Danny discovered that I loathed fresh salmon his face puckered with disappointment. Stubborn to the end, he sometimes bought fresh salmon on offer. It was immediately relegated to the place in the freezer where no man dares to go –  the drawer that always sticks so hard that you have to twist it to take a peek.

Last month, searching for ingredients for our fish pie , I grabbed a fresh pack of the loathed salmon to pad out the other ‘acceptable fish’.

I discovered that even if you have a deep hatred of the texture and taste of poached salmon, it works very well mixed with smoked fish and prawns in a fish pie. Danny was delighted so started to buy salmon from the condemned food counter in earnest.

This evening I made 15 hearty portions of fish pie. Half the fish was salmon, the rest was smoked haddock, coley and prawns. We had been squirreling cut priced, condemned food counter fish for the last month. If I’d paid full price for the fish and seafood the ingredients for the dish would have cost £25.00. We spent just under fifteen pounds for our complete budget priced dish.

We’d stopped eating fish pie for years as it was so expensive to make. When we started to really cut back on the amount of money that we spent on food we discovered that fish is often heavily discounted. Now it’s a regular treat dish. Waitrose fish counter often has good bargains on a Sunday afternoon (after 3 o’clock) in Newmarket. The Tesco CFC puts fresh fish right on the bottom shelf (so it won’t drip onto other food). As you have to crouch down to find the fish a lot of people don’t even spot the bargains.

Thank goodness for the freezer. Storing fresh fish and then deluxe fish pies for future treats. Making fish pies is a palaver – this evening it took me two hours. But cooking in bulk saves time and energy in the long run. The secret ingredients are the decent amount of parsley, the shimmy of garlic and the anchovy essence. This evening I used full cream milk and I reckon that the sauce tasted much more deluxe. I reckon that our fish pies are much tastier and far cheaper than the excellent Waitrose ones which weigh in at about a fiver for two dainty portions.

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  1. Joolsfw

    I’ll get the recipe out to you in the next few days! Am busy auricula theatre constructing (and tending to a GCSE-ing daughter) but it will be with you complete with step by step pictures soon!

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Joolsfw

    That recipe sounds superb. I’d love to see the recipe – if you have the time!

    Hi Magic Cochin

    Yes, yes, yes. I think that I might be on the road to being converted. Can’t wait to try this. Thank you.

    Hi Pamela

    That Remoska sounds like a real dinger. I keep on trying to persuade my mum (89 years old) to get one. The savings on electricity would be good and I bet that they cook food very well.

    If Joolsfw sends me the recipe I’ll pass it on to you!

    Hello Z

    I had ten years of the dish and regretted my initial response many, many times. That’s youth for you. Nowadays I’d have something up my sleeve to politely nip it in the bud 🙂

    Hi Toffeapple

    Yes smoked fish is a must. I don’t know why I started t add some cheese on the top of the spuds – but it does taste good.

    Hello Heidi

    Your salmon recipe sound delicious.

    I love hummus. And also lamb chops with squished chick peas and bacon (Nigel Slater v. good).

    Curried CPs never ever again…

    Hi Michelle in NZ

    I think that Zebby Cat deserves to share a decent fish pie with you at least once a month. Deluxe bonding.

    P.S. The Min Pins adore the scrapings from a good fish pie.

    Hi Amanda

    Moving from house to house with the decorating has taught me so much. To be really thrifty you need a good freezer or two.

    Hi Tulpa

    Your CP recipe ideas sound delicious thank you!

    Hi Beck

    What a shame that they moved the bins. As yet I haven’t bin dived but in time I’m sure that I will. It seems a sensible option if you have the neck.

    Meanwhile CFCs are a boon with us. Where are you living now?

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