While it’s nice to experiment in the kitchen and try exciting and slightly scary things like soufflé and partridge, it’s equally nice to build up a stock of really easy, favourite recipes that you can cook any day of the week. You know, the kind of recipes you don’t even a shopping list for, because the list of ingredients is in your head.
This fish pie recipe is like that for me. It’s fairly quick, easy, tasty and you can substitute different kinds of seafood or vegetables, depending on what you’ve got in the fridge or what’s available at the fishmonger (or, let’s face it, the supermarket).
There’s just one major variable in my version of fish pie: you can use cream or white sauce. You can save on calories by making a roux with a little bit of butter and flour (about a tablespoon of each), then carefully whisking in about 500ml of warmed milk. Or for the quick and decadent version, just use double or single cream – about 500ml.
The really great thing about dishes like this is that there are always leftovers for lunch the next day – and by then, they taste even better.
Easy fish pie
6 large potatoes
Salt and pepper
A few tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of milk
About 400g (1lb) smoked fish (eg haddock) – skinned
About 400g (1lb) of salmon – skinned
1 medium onion
½ cup of frozen peas or fresh spinach
Juice of 1 lemon
400ml-500ml (1 pint) single cream (or 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour and about 500ml milk)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of grated nutmeg
About 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Good handful of parsley or dill
Broccoli or other veges to serve with your pie
– Preheat the oven to a moderate heat, about 180C/350F
– Peel your potatoes. Don’t chop them unless you’re short of time. Put them in a pot of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until soft.
– In a medium-sized pan, gently heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Dice the onion and carrots and sweat them in the oil.
– Check the fish carefully for bones, remove any, and chop into a large dice. Finely chop the parsley or dill.
– If you’re using frozen peas, add them, still frozen, to the onion and carrots. If you’re using spinach, wilt it in a pot of warm water then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Chop it up before adding to the onion and carrots.
– If you’re making white sauce, in a clean pan gently warm the milk. In another clean pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour, cooking it for a minute or two. Slowly pour in the warm milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Keep stirring it until you take it off the heat.
– Add the white sauce (or, the cream, if you’re using it instead) to the vegetable mixture. Gently stir in the fish, mustard, nutmeg, most of the cheese and lemon juice. The mixture should be a nice, loose consistency.
– When the potatoes are nice and soft, drain and mash, adding salt, pepper, 2-3 tbsp of milk and a good glug of olive oil, which will help it to brown.
– Pour the fish mixture into the bottom of a large baking dish, top with the remaining sprinkling of cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
– Serve with steamed broccoli or other green vegetable.