If you observe the liturgical calendar and give up meat during the Lenten season, this is a wonderful dish. Even if you don’t. . . It’s delicious–warm and comforting like a pie but with the briny goodness of the sea. I tend to make it when it’s cold outside and need a meal that’ll stick to my ribs. For me, fish pie is the lunch or dinner equivalent of steel cut oats with almonds and berries at breakfast. It’s a dish that will warm you and make you feel like a winner and keep you going for hours. Frankly, it’s what I like to imagine the Royal Navy and RAF had before defeating the boys in Das Boot.
First make your mash:
1 kg floury potatoes , peeled, and boiled
2 heaping tablespoons crème fraiche
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
Method: Once the potatoes are soft, drain them then put them back in the pot with the other ingredients. They should be quite thick.
At this time you should preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.
For the sauce:
75g plain flour
450ml of whole milk
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
a small bunch of dill, chopped
salt and pepper
Method: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, quickly whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly to avoid sticking. Do this over a low flame for a minute or two. Let this roux thicken but do not let it brown. Take the roux off the flame and whisk in a bit of milk. When it’s incorporated add the rest of the milk and return to the heat. Keep whisking. When the sauce looks thick enough, remove it from the flame and add all remaining ingredients. Mix well and be sure to remove the bay leaves before using.
Now add the seafood and construct your pie:
1kg of mixed offcuts from the fishmonger (I use prawns, regular cod, smoked cod, and salmon)
Be sure the fish has no bones in it and has been cut into 1″ chunks.
Method: Put the seafood in the bottom of a deep ceramic dish. Pour the sauce over the top. Next, spoon on the potato mash. Use a fork to make ridges in this top layer. Grate a little cheese (I use parmesan and cheddar) over everything and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden brown and the sides are bubbling. I like to serve this with peas.