A few chilly nights and I start thinking of comfort food – this dish certainly fits the bill – and it is so easy to make and very adaptable. It’s the kind of thing my mother used to make with smoked fish – like haddock. I make it with whatever fresh and chunky fillet fish I can get at our farmer’s market on a Friday morning – but you could use fresh salmon or add some prawns if you were making it for a dinner party (I’d probably use one of my fancier casserole dishes too!)
So many fish pie recipes involve a lot of different stages and consequently quite a few dirty pots and pans – with this one you make it and bake it in just the one large pan – now, that definitely has to be a bonus! Oh, did I say that it tastes delicious too?
FISH PIE WITH MASHED POTATO
500 g firm, white, chunky fillet fish (you can use salmon)
1kg mashing potatoes
75 g butter
1 leek, discard dark green part
celery, about half a cup, finely chopped (optional – you can replace the celery with bulb fennel)
2 desert spoons plain white flour
3/4 cup fish or vegetable stock
3/4 cup fresh milk
fresh parsley, finely chopped (about half a cup)
1 cup mixed peas and corn (optional)
salt and pepper
(extra butter and milk for mashing potatoes)
½ cup grated strong cheese or parmesan
1. Put oven on at 190oC
2. Peel and quarter potatoes and put them in saucepan of water to boil until cooked.
3. While potatoes are cooking put butter in casserole dish and melt.
|Washing and slicing the leekWash leek and celery and finely chop and add to butter.
TOP TIP: The best way to wash leeks, to get all the grit out of them, is to slice them lengthways (as in the photo) and hold under a running tap – white part at the top – this way the dirt washes down and out.
|Saute the leeks and celery in butter
4. Saute these until soft. Turn the heat right down.
5. Add the flour to this mixture and stir around until it all starts to stick together (this means the starch grains are bursting and will thicken your sauce – it’s called a roux and is the basis of most white sauces).
Place on a low heat and slowly add the stock and milk and combine thoroughly – do this carefully or it will go lumpy.
After a minute or so the sauce will begin to thicken. You don’t want it too sloppy or the mashed potato wont sit on top.
6. Cut the fish into bite-size chunks and add to the sauce.
7. If you are adding peas and corn, put them in now. Stir gently for one minute and turn the heat off. You don’t want to break the fish up and everything will finish cooking when you put it in the oven.
8. Adjust seasoning – I like white pepper with fish – add chopped parsley, stir.
|Placing the mashed potato on the fish mixture
9. When the potatoes are cooked. Strain them and mash them with a little milk and butter and add salt and pepper – again, I like white pepper in mashed potato.
10. Carefully put small spoonfuls of potato on top of the fish mixture and then smooth out with a fork completely covering fish mixture. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
|Smooth out the potato with a fork, sprinkle with cheese
11. Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes until top is golden
Why leeks and not onion and maybe garlic? I just think that the flavour and texture of leeks works better with fish – I find onion and garlic too strong in a creamy sauce – I don’t mind it in tomato, Italian dishes.
I served it with sauteed cabbage, carrot and fennel – tossed in a hot pan with a little butter. I just added some watercress at the end.
|Fish Pie with sauteed winter vegetables