Thursday, 5 April 2012

A simple fish pie

I love a fish pie, and now that the weather has turned colder again it seemed the perfect dish to warm and comfort.  It occurred to me when I was planning this that it would be a perfect dish to commemorate Good Friday; the fish having been associated with Christianity from the very beginning. 

As a mark of the significance and solemnity of Good Friday I thought a simple fish pie was better than a celebratory one stuffed with fish, scallops, prawns and mussels;  but you could certainly add any or all of those if you wished.   

When I make a fish pie I usually use a mix of white fish (cod or hake), a salmon fillet and a hard boiled egg to eke out the fish a little.  

Depending on the fish you are using, this is quite a frugal way to stretch a piece of fish a little bit further.  I often make it with smoked cod too, which makes a very tasty dinner. 

The simple one I made today, to serve two people, used : 

1 small cod loin
1 small salmon fillet
1 hard boiled egg
1 bunch of parsley
½ pint of milk
1tb flour
1 knob of butter
1 small bunch of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup of peas
1 or 2 oz of grated cheddar
2 medium/large potatoes (depending on the size of your dish), boiled and mashed with a little butter. 

Firstly, poach the cod and salmon.  I always do this in the oven as it stops the house smelling of fish.  Simply place the two fillets in a deep dish and cover with water, cover the dish with foil and poach at 200oC(400oF/Gas mark 6) for 25 to 30 minutes. 

As you will be making a white sauce for the fish I find it helpful to get everything ready beforehand so that I can concentrate on making the sauce.  So pop the peas in the microwave to cook for a few minutes and then set aside.  Wash and chop the parsley and set it aside and peel and chop the egg, then set aside. 

When the fish is poached, take it out of the oven and cut into bite-sized pieces. 

For the pie, simply add the flour, butter and milk to a pan and place over a low heat.  Keep stirring the sauce and bring it to a gentle simmer so that it will thicken.  Keep stirring/beating the sauce so that there is no chance of lumps forming.  When the sauce is thickened to the right consistency, season to taste with salt and pepper and then add the rest of the pie ingredients, stirring gently so that you don’t break everything up.  

Turn the pie filling into your dish and then spoon on the mashed potato and spread out with a fork.  Finish the pie with a generous helping of grated cheddar cheese. 

Pop the pie into the oven for 20 minutes at 200oC(400oF/Gas mark 6). 

You can prepare the pie ahead of time if you wish, in which case you should make sure that either everything is hot, or cold when the pie is assembled (to avoid the risk of food poisoning).  From cold it will need approximately 30 to 40 minutes in the oven, but the cooking time depends on the type of dish you are using, the depth of the pie inside the dish and the temperature it was when it went into the oven.   A medium enamel pie dish, at room temperature will take 35 minutes, the small one pictured below took 25 minutes.

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