We have been on a mission to introduce more seafood into our diet of late, as we all know the plethora of health benefits involved with fish consumption. I tell my kids that it’s ‘good for the brain and makes you clever’, probably because my Mum told me something similar when I was a nipper. Well, it is true…in a roundabout way…like carrots help you to see in the dark (I use that one as well incidentally, mums are so wise!) Anyhow, we need to eat more of the stuff and luckily we have stumbled across a recipe that we are all happy to introduce to our weekly meal planner. ‘Fisherman’s Pie’ is on the tick list (I have blogged about Jamie’s Fish Pie previously which is also very tasty, but the topping has peas included – making it tinged with green – which my children now refuse to eat. I can’t stand to see them pick about at their food, so this new option makes life much easier.)
This recipe is actually adapted from one of Delia Smith’s classics and is featured in her fantastic book ‘Complete Cookery Course’. I just want to add that as a point of reference, for almost everything cookery related, it’s hard to beat. She certainly knows her stuff and it’s well worth investing in a copy for the book case. I have referred to it for various baking challenges, numerous sauces and staple everyday meals.
You can choose your favourite white fish to make this dish – we bought a bag of frozen Pollock that can be cooked straight from the freezer or thawed beforehand. We found it to be very cost effective (around £1.60 a bag), and a packet of frozen prawns, although slightly dearer (around the £3 mark), should provide for two meals. You just need to thaw half of the bag and save the rest for another day.
To make our version of the pie you will need (to serve four):
– 700g of Pollock or white fish of choice (fresh or frozen)
– one pint of whole milk
– 110g of butter
– 50g of plain flour
– two hard boiled eggs
– 110g of peeled prawns (fresh or frozen but defrost before use)
– one tablespoon of drained capers
– one tablespoon of lemon juice
– some freshly chopped parsley (we left this out, purely due to the kids fussiness, but I’m sure that it would only heighten the flavour)
– salt and black pepper
For the topping:
– 900g of boiled white potatoes
– a generous knob of butter
– a splash of whole milk
– one tablespoon of wholegrain mustard (optional but recommended!)
– 25g of grated mature cheddar
The method we used:
– Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Arrange the fish in a baking tray then season, pour over half the milk and top with knobs of butter (around 25g). Bake for around 15 minutes.
– Take the fish out and keep the cooking liquid to one side (very important) and flake it using a fork.
– Melt the remaining butter in a large pan, stir in the flour and gradually add the fish cooking liquid. Do this slowly and keep stirring after each thing is added. Finally tip the remaining milk in and season to taste.
– Mix the flaked fish into the sauce along with the prawns, capers, chopped eggs and parsley (if you’re using it).
– Stir in the lemon juice and transfer it all into a baking dish (buttered).
– To make the topping, cream the potatoes (a ricer is good if you have one, for nice lump-free mash!) and add the butter and milk. Mix well, add the mustard and also a good pinch of seasoning to taste.
– Spread the topping evenly over the sauce and indent with lines using a fork (this will make it crunchy on top). Finish by sprinkling the grated cheddar.
– Place in the oven to cook for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned on top.
It was a sheer delight to delve into this pie through the crisp but fluffy mash, through to the rich and creamy fish sauce. My favourite part was stumbling upon a juicy prawn and also the little burst of saltiness you get from biting into a caper. The topping really benefits from that spoonful of mustard as well, as it adds a little kick to the whole meal (a top tip from Jamie Oliver).
Dare I say it, we served ours with a helping of baked beans and tomato ketchup on the side (the husband’s idea – also derived from Jamie), but trust me when I say that this little beauty can be enjoyed, simply as it comes.