The fish pie is a British classic but I cannot help adding a little improvement from a Frenchman! Often, the fish ends up completely over cooked, lacking its identity, texture and flavour so in this recipe I cool the sauce and then add the fish to the cold sauce before baking in a hot oven. This ensures that the fish is not over-cooked. This versatile recipe can be made with whatever fish you prefer. You can be creative with flavouring it, and adding your favourite herbs. You can make and chill the sauce ahead of time, or assemble the pie, minus the topping, and freeze.
For the sauce:
Shallots, small peeled and sliced
Fennel, 1cm dice
Leeks, cut in half lengthways, washed and cut into 1cm slices
Mushrooms button, washed and sliced
Milk, whole, organic
Parsley, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the fish:
Pollock, 2cm dice (Or any mixture of fish you like)
For the topping
Potatoes, Desirée, peeled, cut 5cm, steamed until soft for 25-30minutes
Milk, whole, organic, warmed
Butter, unsalted, melted
Pepper, white, freshly ground
For the sauce:
Steam the potatoes for the topping while you prepare the sauce.
In a large sauté pan, soften the shallots, fennel and leeks in the butter for 5 minutes with no colour.
Add the sliced mushrooms and sweat for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook for 1 minute before gradually stirring in the milk.
Simmer for 5 minutes, season and allow to cool, then finish with cream, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.
Place the fish into the bowl and pour over the sauce. Reserve in the fridge while you make the topping.
Preparing the topping and baking:
Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.
Strain the cooked potatoes into a colander, letting the excess steam escape for 2 – 3 minutes.
Pass the potato through a potato ricer or mash with a potato masher. Return the purée of potato into a saucepan, gradually pour and mix in the warm milk (retain a little).
Stir-in the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. If the purée is too firm, thin it down with the remaining milk.
Allow to cool slightly before spooning into a piping bag and piping over the top of your fish pie.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
"Be careful to wash the leeks sufficiently so as to remove any grit that they may hold."
"Do not boil the potatoes rapidly or they will disintegrate and absorb water."
"You can either reserve the fish pie in the fridge where it will keep until the next day for you to bake or cling film well and place into the freezer until required."
"Use whatever fish you prefer, such as salmon, or prawns, or use your choice of herbs to finish the sauce."
Replace the vegetables in the pie with any seasonal vegetables you prefer, such as peas, courgettes, carrots, celery etc…
For an alternative topping you could add horseradish to the mashed potatoes or replace the potato topping with puff pastry cut into lids. If using puff pastry, brush the lid with egg yolk, and bake at 190ºC for 25 minutes, and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.