Friday 5 March 2010

Fish Pie for British Pie Week

The week commencing 1st March - this week in fact - is British Pie Week. I hold pies very close to my heart: I think they are comforting, nurturing and very delicious whether sweet or savoury. But I was a bit put off by the fact that Pie Week is pretty much an advertising gimmick for a large pastry manufacturer. So how to celebrate the wonder of traditional British pies whilst sticking it to the man? A pastry-free pie.

In Britain, you see a lot of dishes with a mashed potato topping (shepherd's pie, cottage pie) called a pie. And although I love cottage pie, I absolutely adore fish pie.

There's a lot of flexibility around a fish pie. It's generally a white sauce base, but I have made very good pies on a veloute sauce. Some people like hard boiled eggs in the filling and cheese in the mashed potato - I don't. But I do like a variety of fish and something vegetable-y in mine. But not peas. Please.

This is my recipe for this particular small fish pie. It served the two of us, with enough leftovers for a lunch the next day. If you do a thicker layer of potato, it'll go further.

Fish Pie

2tbs butter
2tbs plain flour
1 leek, washed and finely sliced
Milk (about 1 cup - I used semi skimmed)
A big handful of chopped parsley
300g cod fillet, skinned and cut into chunks (I used an MSC certified one, but if you can't find that, any sustainable white flaky fish)
200g undyed smoked haddock fillet, skinned and cut into chunks (you can use the lurid yellow dyed one, of course. Or a drained can of smoked mussels)
150g raw peeled prawns
freshly ground white pepper
400g frozen mashed potato, thawed (or, you know, a spud and a bit of butter)

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. When it foams, add the shredded leeks and saute until well-wilted. Sprinkle on the flour and stir well until the flour is thoroughly absorbed into the butter and leeks.

Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, until you have a thick sauce. I make this a lot thicker and stodgier than my normal bechamel, because I don't pre-cook my seafood, so it'll throw off a lot of moisture and I don't want a runny pie filling.

Add the parsley. Season the sauce well with nutmeg and white pepper. The smoked haddock is very salty, so I don't add extra salt. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the seafood, and allow the sauce to come back up to the simmer. Remove from the heat when the prawns are beginning to turn pink.

Pour into a pyrex baking dish, I use an 8" square one. Top with the mashed potato and rough it up with a fork.

Put into a 180C oven for about 35-45 minutes or until the filling is bubbling up around the sides of the dish and the peaks of the potato are an appetising brown. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. I served it with steamed purple sprouting broccoli, dressed in a shallot and caper vinaigrette. The rich, creamy fish pie likes something a bit tangy on the side.


Deb in Hawaii said...

Happy British Pie Week (I feel bad for not sending a card! lol) ;-) Your pie looks delicious--perfect comfort food!

HH said...

That does sound like an excellent fish pie FC, I think I may, with your guidance, now be brave enough to venture into the world of fish pie...hopefully.

kat said...

I need to try making a fish pie. My friend recently made one for her English husband & was dubbed a good wife ;)

hungryandfrozen said...

I like peas in my fish pie :) but to each their own! Good on you for incorporating pie-making into sticking it to the man. I like it!

NKP said...

Way to stick it to the man!
Looks delicious, I have never had a fish pie but I like fish curry so I am sure I would love it.

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

British Pie Week... I have got to get a better calender.

Incredible sounding meal...

I am thinking GREAT with leftover fish... hmm... pondering this now

Unknown said...

I have never had fish pie before, but i am a sucker for smoked haddock. Unfortunate;y we don;t get it in Greece. Happy Pie Week!

Chef Aimee said...

Oh wow! I love this different take on pie! Looks delicious!

Pam said...

Oh, I love savory pies and this sounds excellent! Hope you're having a Happy British Pie Week! Someone needs to do a start-up for that here!

Jude said...

Looks amazing! I love fish pie. Interestingly (I think) the Daily Mail did a comparison between Delia and Jamie Oliver's. Yours looks better than both I think.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Deb - thanks!

HH - I really do think you will like it.

Kat - well that is definitely something to aspire to!

Laura -*shudder* I don't mind peas as a side dish to fish pie though.

Natashya - if you like fish curry you should definitely try pie.

Dave - Could be very good with leftover fish.

Jo - I wonder about adding some soaked salt cod instead?

Aimee - thanks!

Pam - I agree, everywhere should celebrate Pie Week!

Jude - thanks for posting that link!


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