I love a good Caribbean night. Yesterday we went all out and not only did we have a couple of Mauby Mount Gay tipples, I indulged in a dark and stormy or two…and some Caribbean rum cake. My brother and sister-in-law have recently returned from St Vincent and kindly came home bearing gifts for all. Thanks to them, we had all the ingredients to make the perfect themed night. Love them dearly!
We’ve had various packs of mackerel, salmon and trout hanging about in the freezer for a while, so I’ve been keen to utilise them and turn them into something beautiful. Fish pie was the only way to go. Not just any fish pie…Caribbean fish pie! This is one of Levi Root’s great recipes that you can find in his book ‘Caribbean Food Made Easy’. It comprises of a rich and comforting sauce using coconut cream, and a sweet potato mash topping. This is hearty fare indeed.
To make our version of Levi’s pie (serves four) you will need:
– 600g of fish fillets (preferably white/skinned – cod or haddock works well, and/or saltfish)
– One pint of whole milk
– A sprig of fresh thyme (or a pinch of dried)
– 55g of butter
– Two tablespoons of plain flour
– 50g block of creamed coconut (roughly chopped) or a small can of coconut cream
– The juice of one and a half limes
– Salt and black pepper
– A large handful of coriander leaves (chopped) – optional
– 250g of fresh spinach (washed) – we used a medium sized broccoli head instead, cut into small florets
– One portion of Caribbean mash (see below)
For the Caribbean mash:
– 900g of sweet potatoes (peeled/ chopped into equal medium sized pieces)
– 40g of butter
– Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
– Genourous pinch of ground allspice
– Salt and black pepper
– Pre-heat the oven to gas mark four/180C. Warm the milk and thyme in a large stove top pan until it reaches the boil. Remove from the heat and put to one side to infuse for around half an hour.
– Meanwhile, make the mash by bringing the sweet potatoes to the boil in cold water and simmering for 8-10 minutes. Mash with the butter and add the spices. Season to taste.
– Place the fish in the inflused milk, bring back to the boil and leave to poach for five minutes. Remove the fish (reserving the milk) and divide into flakes. Discard the thyme (if using fresh).
– For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and gradually add the flour. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the warm reserved milk, whisking continuously to avoid any lumps. Once thickened, add in the creamed coconut/coconut cream until it melts into the sauce. Season to your preferred taste with lime juice and salt and pepper.
-Add in the coriander and spinach, which will cook through the heat of the sauce. Very gently stir in the fish (so as not to break it down any further). Check for seasoning.
– Pour the mixture into a large oven-proof dish and top with the Caribbean mash. Dot the top with the remaining butter. Place on a baking tray (to catch any spillages) and cook in the middle of the oven for twenty to thirty minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
This pie is a real joy. It’s a refreshing change to have a sweet potato mash (and good to be eating one of the ‘superfoods’) instead of using your average spuds. The infusion of the milk with the thyme makes all the difference, as does a lovely little burst of citrus from the lime juice. We also found that replacing the spinach with broccoli adds another bit of texture that works very well. A few old reggae tunes on in the background and it’s happy days.