07 Sep Fish Pie
7 September 2022
PREP. TIME: 1 hour - COOK TIME: 20 - 30 MIN - SERVES: 8
Fish Pie is one of the most comforting dishes imaginable. It can be served as a grand affair on Good Friday after a day of fasting, or before midnight mass or on Christmas Eve. Fish Pie can in fact be served any time you fancy and they will thank you for it!.
It is one of my father's favourites - so I prepared this for the family on Fathers Day.
Some fish pies are bound in a pastry case. I much prefer it like this.
There are no two ways about it - this dish is a bit of a project and takes some organisation and some time. It is most fun to cook with someone else of course. Just clear the decks, empty the dishwasher, turn up the music and open a bottle of wine and get on with it - you will be done in no time and have something to show for it too.
The original recipe called for half cod and half smoked haddock fillet. See the variation below.
Serve with a creamy puree of potatoes and a tomato salad.
900g cod such as blue eye or harpuka skinless fillets
200 g scallops with corals attached
225 g green prawn cutlets
1.3 kg fresh English spinach (approx 2 - 3 bunches)
For the sauce
115 g butter plus extra to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Grated nutmeg
1 large Spanish onion thinly sliced
3 tablespoons flour
4 teaspoon anchovy essence or 4 teaspoons chopped anchovy fillets
A big bunch of parsley, rinsed, trimmed and chopped finely
115 g finely grated Parmesan cheese
Chopping board, Kitchen knife, Large plate, Large fry pan or saute pan, tongs, fish spatula, Oven to Table dish - approx 20 x 30 cm; 2 litre pot to heat the milk, 6 litre pot for the sauce., large spoon for stirring
Prepare the ingredients and equipment
Assemble all the ingredients in accordance with the lists above.
Peel and finely slice the onion.
Rinse and finely chop the parsley
Finely grate the Parmesan cheese
Butter the oven dish.
Cook the fish
Place the fish in the large fry pan and pour boiling water over it - simmer for 10 minutes.
Transfer the fish onto a clean plate and allow to cool.
Strain the cooking water into a measuring jug.
Wash the pan
Prepare the Spinach
Trim the spinach of its roots - retaining as much of the tender stems as you can.
Discard the roots along with any bruised or broken leaves or stems.
Wash the spinach in several changes of water until there is no sediment left in the bottom of the sink.
Place the cleaned large pan over moderate heat and add the spinach - a handful or two at a time. As the first bit of spinach collapses,
Do not add any water - the water on the leaves is enough.
Add a teaspoon of salt and dissolve it in the residual water in the pan.
Cook for just a minute or so until the leaves are wilted.
Transfer the wilted leaves to a colander and add the next few handfuls of leaves. Continue in this way until all of the spinach has been cooked.
Allow the spinach to drain and cool in the colander.
Wash the pan.
Drain the spinach leaves well, squeezing out any excess water from the leaves.
Add 55 g butter to the cleaned pan and then add the cooked spinach. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg, toss well .
Arrange the spinach on the base of the prepared baking dish.
Make the Bechamel sauce
NB you can make a lighter sauce by combining some of the strained fish stock with the milk if you prefer - either 50/50 or 2/3 milk and 1/3 stock.
Heat the milk and or stock in the small pot over moderate heat
Melt the remaining 55 g butter to the larger pot and cook the sliced onion with a teaspoon of salt. Cook gently for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent but not coloured.
Add the flour to the butter and onion over moderate heat, stir to make a roux.
Stir for another minute or two over low heat to 'cook' the flour - do not let it colour.
Take the pot off the heat and add the warm milk a little at a time, beating it in well so there are no lumps, to create a smooth bechamel sauce.
Pop in a bay leaf and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring now and then.
Arrange an oven tray in the centre of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Stir the chopped parsley and the anchovy essence or anchovies into the white sauce.
Taste and season well with salt and pepper.
Mix in the flaked fish. Combine well and pour the fish sauce combination over the spinach.
Remove the corals from the scallops and trim any discoloured bits. Slice the scallop whites in half horizontally and distribute over the fish, intersperse with the corals.
Scatter the prawns on top.
Sprinkle over the finely grated Parmesan cheese and some dots of butter.
Place the baking dish into the centre of the pre heated oven and cook for 20 - 30 minutes until heated through. The pie should be browned on top and bubbling at the edges.
Serve with Potato puree and a Tomato salad
Instead of 900g cod - use 450g each of cod and smoked haddock.
Cook the haddock with the cod as described above.
Once all the fish is cool enough to handle, remove any bones and skin and discard.
Proceed with the recipe as above.
Recipe by The Two Fat Ladies - Gastronomical Adventures (With Motorbike and Sidecar) by Jennifer Patterson and Clarissa Dickson Wrigh.
Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey
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