As you will soon realize, I love anything in pie form. Almost as much as I love recipes in grams. This fish pie wins on both accounts!
As the weather cools down, I’ve been making more and more pies, sweet and savory. I was afraid that this, with its smoked fish and milk poaching liquid, would be a very fishy dish indeed. But, if you like clam chowder than you will love this dish. It does require a lot of work, but you can break it up into smaller tasks over a day or two.
This morning before work I was able to boil and mash the potatoes. I was using frozen fish and left it in the fridge to defrost all day. When I came home, all I had to do was poach the fish for a few minutes and make a white sauce.
Of course, I sat more 20 minutes staring at the oven wondering if I would starve before the mashed potatoes were appropriately golden.
In retrospect, I think that could possibly just stick the whole thing under the broiler for 10 minutes instead of baking it. The overall dish wouldn’t be as hot: but, when you are hungry, those things become less important.
Though it’s not a quick week-night meal, this dish is well worth the effort. It’s creamy and fishy, but not obnoxiously so. Poaching the fish in milk and then using that for the sauce really infuses the flavors throughout the dish.
Speaking of sauces, if you’ve never made a basic white sauce (or roux as it is called in French), this is a good place to start. Even if your sauce is lumpy, no one will know because the texture will blend in with the fish! Win-win!
Just a few notes: if using frozen fish, defrost before beginning recipe.
You can use white pepper in the mashed potatoes if you like, but I find it unnecessary.
We have fresh parsley growing in raised beds and they mainly survive the winter. If you don’t have access to fresh parsley this late in the year, don’t use dried. Just skip it! The parsley adds flavor, yes, but it also adds color and crunch, which is lost in the dried version.
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cubed
50 g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp butter
1 c milk
salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook for 10-15 min. Potatoes are done when they are fork tender. Drain. Place potatoes back in pot and mash. Add cheese, butter, and milk. Mash to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
700 g cod or other firm white fish cut into chunks
300 g smoked whitefish, broken into chunks
1 small onion
2 bay leaves
2 c milk
4 tbsp butter
1/4 c flour
salt and pepper
Place milk and bay leaves in a large pan. Bring to a simmer. Add fish and onion. Simmer for 6-8 min or until fish is opaque. Drain milk into another container. Place drained fish pieces into baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Chop parsley, stems and all.
Melt butter in pan. Once butter is completely melted, pull the pan off the heat. Whisk in flour. It will look like Play-Dough but don’t worry. Place back on the heat and cook over medium heat for a 1 minute. This takes the flour taste out of the final sauce. Slowly add a splash of fish milk in a steady stream to pan. Whisk until it is all absorbed. DO NOT add all the milk at once! Add a little more milk and whisk. Repeat until all the milk has been added and you have a smooth sauce. While you are adding the milk, it will seem like it will never become a sauce but just keep whisking! Once the sauce seems smooth, bring a boil for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
Add chopped parsley, salt, and pepper to the sauce and mix to combine. Pour white sauce over the fish. Stir gently in baking dish to incorporate ingredients.
Now comes the hard part: scoop the mashed potatoes over the sauced fish. The base is very liquid so I would suggest dolloping the mashed potatoes around the dish and spreading gently with the back of a spoon. If that is still causing the sauce to spill over the potatoes, use clean hands to gently move the potatoes into place. Areas that have sauce will not get golden-brown and crunchy in the oven. That is a very sad thing.
Place the baking dish in the oven. Bake 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!
- Fish Pie (delusciousdelights.wordpress.com)