Fish pie

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Four steps. That’s all it takes. (Apart from the sub-steps for each of the four steps..;. but that’s all, honest. And at the end of those few steps and sub-steps, you get this gently spiced pie with a crisp cheesy mashed potato topping. You can use whatever fish you like in this, I guess. I bought a fish pie mix from the supermarket, so there were two-inch pieces of salmon, cod and smoked haddock.

If you’ve read the recipe and you’re wondering why I didn’t add salt to the mashed potato or to the white sauce, it’s because I found out the hard way that salt water fish are salty in themselves, unlike fresh water fish. I’ve come close to making a fish dish inedible because I added salt… so I’m now a little less ignorant and passing on my wisdom (!) to you.

I don’t have anything else to say on this topic, so shall we move on to the recipe? Yep… I thought you’d want that.

Recipe for: Fish Pie

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Ingredients:

About 350gms of fish in large pieces, skinless and boneless
500gms floury potatoes
1 small onion, quartered
600ml whole milk
2 tbsp plain flour
50 gms Cheddar cheese, grated
3 large eggs
3 tbsp butter
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
large pinch of nutmeg
Freshly ground peppercorns to taste
2 tbsp parsley or coriander, chopped finely

Method:

1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into evenly sized pieces. Boil until they’re cooked through (I pressure-cooked them – easy and economical), then mash them with 1 tbsp butter and 100 ml hot milk. Season with pepper to taste.

2. Put the milk in a saucepan and place the fish in it along with the quartered onion, the cloves and the bay leaves.

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Bring to a gentle boil – there should be a few bubbles but no more. Let the fish poach in the milk until just cooked, 4-8 minutes depending on the size of the pieces of fish. If the pieces aren’t quite submerged in the milk, turn them over carefully after 2 minutes or so, so that the uncovered parts can cook too. When the fish is opaque, remove the pieces from the pan and flake them into a deep ovenproof dish.

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The pieces can be large, but make sure they’re more or less the same size. Strain the milk and discard the solids. Let the milk cool.

3. While the milk is cooling, boil the eggs, cool, peel and quarter them. Arrange the quartered eggs over the fish, then scatter the parsley or coriander on top.

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4. Make the sauce. To do this, melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over a medium flame, then add the flour. Stir for one minute, Turn the heat down and take the pan off the heat. Add a little of the cool poaching milk and whisk well. Continue until all the milk has been blended, then put the pan back on the heat. Bring it to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. When the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, turn off the heat. Whisk in the nutmeg and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the eggs.

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5. Top the pie with the mash, making sure to spread it evenly all the way around the edge of the dish, sealing in the filling. Use a fork to make a pretty pattern on the mash, if you like.

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Top with the grated cheese and bake the pie in a 180C/350F oven until the cheese has melted and is a light golden brown on top.

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Serve hot with boiled new potatoes and green peas.

Verdict: Two thumbs up from Pete

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