Fish pie is one of those luxurious, comforting dishes that always looks far more complicated to make than it is. Apart from being great for entertaining, with your guests thinking you’ve spent hours in the kitchen, it can also be an incredibly cheap dish to make.
One great tip is to have a ‘fish pie bag’ on the go in the freezer – basically a bag of (uncooked) offcuts and ‘leftovers’ from fish you’ve done before. You know, those times when there’s more fish than you need for the meal you’re cooking but there’s not enough for a whole meal, pop it in the bag and freeze it – keep doing this until you have enough for a meal. By then, you’ll probably have two or three prawns, a couple of bits of this fish and a few bits of that – it’s all good and will make the most delicious meal that costs almost nothing.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 200-300g fish chunks, whatever you have, basically enough for two; if you include a few chunks of smoked haddock and 1-2 prawns it’ll be perfect
- 3-4 large potatoes (add a carrot or swede too if you want to)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 nob of butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- small handful of grated cheese
- 200ml milk
- pinch of saffron (optional)
- pinch of smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tbsp creme fraiche (optional)
- splash of lemon juice
- handful of chopped spinach
- fish stock cube
- For the mash, peel and dice the potatoes and boil in salted water for around 10-12 minutes, or until done
- Sweat the onion and garlic in the nob of butter for 3 minutes until soft.
- Add the flour and stir for a minute to cook out; add the milk, thyme, nutmeg, paprika, fish stock cube, creme fraiche and saffron (if using) and bring to simmering point before turning off. Stir in the spinach and most of the cheese. If it’s too thick, let it down with a splash of hot water. Taste and season: don’t season until now as the stock cube could be salty enough.
- Drain the potatoes, let steam for a minute, then mash with the egg yolk, a pinch of salt and the rest of the cheese. I always use an egg yolk if I’m baking mash as I think it adds richness and a beautiful colour.
- Lay all the fish in the bottom of an earthenware pot. Pour over the sauce, add the lemon juice and top with the mash. Use a fork to rough up the top of the mash for extra texture.
- Bake in the oven at around 180c for 25 minutes, then serve.
I only had 3 small potatoes so I made up the difference with carrots. Once you’ve mastered the sauce, it’s a great addition to any poached or sautéed fish too, so I’d urge you to give this recipe a go. For around 15 minutes of prep, you’ll have incredibly easy – and cheap – meal that you’ll want to make a regular thing!