How to Cook Fish Pie
A How-To Guide For The Woman Who Doesn’t Cook
No good recipe would be complete without a story!
It was Toronto’s second lockdown due to COVID-19 and after almost a full year living through the pandemic, my husband and I decided we needed to put an end to our incessant “Skip the Dishes” orders. It was our first attempt at cooking a pretty serious meal together; one might assume that if you’re cooking together for the first time that you might want to consider doing something relatively easy. Not us! Nope, we decided to go for it — testing our skills and our patience with one another.
My husband has British background and often likes to throw that in my very proud Dutch face. Having said that, I had eaten Fish Pie once on a trip to London (remember that? Trips?) and it was incredible so I can’t say I put up much of a fight. Ironically, before ever having a Fish Pie, I thought it sounded rather gross. Something about poaches fish with a white sauce all mushed together under some type of pie toping seemed displeasing, trust me when I say that this is one of those things where you shouldn’t judge the book by its cover!
We had a couple of snags along the way (literally snagged my finger on the blades of the blender) but besides that, along with a sink full of dishes and accidentally adding too much salt and pepper, it was a huge success!
This is a great meal to serve to guests because you can do it the day before and spend less time in the kitchen while you’re entertaining (which means more time sipping wine and chit-chatting), plus you have the added bonus that it would be highly unlikely if your guests had ever been serviced Fish Pie at a Dinner Party…cuz who serves British Food at a Dinner Party?
INGREDIENTS — Use your gut!
Dill — half of a bunch finely chopped
Green Onions — half of a bunch finely chopped
Leeks — Two big suckers thinly sliced
Chives — the whole package chopped
Garlic cloves — go as ham as you want (we used 3)
Potatoes — 8–10 yellow potatoes quartered
Peas — 1 cup frozen (we bought this for our recipe but forgot they were in the freezer, so do as I say and not as I do in this case)
Two egg yolks
1 Stick of Butter
Salmon Fillet — a decent size (any fish you like will do)
Smoked Cod — a decent size
Prawns — 5–6 big suckers
1 pint cream — those little boxes
1 pint milk — those little boxes
All purpose flour — 1 cup
Smoked Cheddar — Two massive mountains grated
Mustard — this is a British dish and so if you use anything other than a British mustard (think Keen’s), it’s blasphemy
White Wine — you don’t need much so it’s a great excuse to open a bottle and pour yourself a glass while you’re at it! Any dry white wine that you like will do.
Salt — to taste
Pepper — to taste
PREPARATION — Learn from my mistakes…
Pre-heat over to 375°
Put quartered potatoes in a pot, bring to a boil and cook until you stick your fork in the potato and it’s a bit sticky but still falls off. Drain. Put potatoes back in the pot and set aside.
Cube all fish and prawns (make sure the skin is off).
Pour milk and cream into saucepan (save a couple splashes for the potatoes), bring to a “barely there” simmer.
Add salmon and cod(not prawns because they take less time to cook) and poach. After a ‘little bit’ (super technical here), put in the prawns.
Cook until you think the fish is mostly cooked but not the whole way through (you got this!). If the salmon starts to fully flake a part, you’ve probably poached it for too long.
Sieve fish out of milk/cream concoction and place into your baking dish. (If you have a pie dish, that could work, if not, any oven-safe dish that’s roughly 2–3 inches deep)
Pour milk concoction into a bowl and place to the side.
Chop leeks, chives, green onion.
In saucepan previously used for milk/cream concoction, melt ½ of the butter and a few tablespoons of olive oil.
Add leeks and garlic, stir until softened.
Add flour and stir until cooked. (I’m not sure what this means but the YouTube channel said to cook the flour).
Add milk/cream concoction back to the pan slowly while stirring.
Add two heaping spoons of the mustard and a splash or two of the wine.
Stir in chives, lemon rind and ½ of the cheese until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over poached fish and put in fridge. (You will likely have extra sauce because this is not a real recipe and we certainly did. I froze mine for a quick and smaller Fish Pie in the future!)
Mash potatoes and stir in green onions, egg yolks, rest of the cheese, butter and left over milk/cream. (Because we are amateur chefs, we didn’t have a masher or a ricer and so we had no choice but to blend the potatoes. If you can avoid this, please do so, because although it does the trick, it does make the mash gummy.)
Layer potato mixture over the fish and sauce.
Place in oven for 45 minutes or until top is browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving and enjoy!
TIPS AND TRICKS
Overall, don’t put too much pressure on yourself in the kitchen. Have fun with it! We didn’t measure, we didn’t follow a recipe specifically….we winged it and that made for a much more fun experience.
I do think the sheer amount of dishes may not be worth it for a novice cook or someone who doesn’t have 3 hours to spend in the kitchen. For a much easier Fish Pie recipe, one that requires fewer dishes and that actually may have some nutritional value, check out Jamie Oliver’s recipe HERE.
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