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For me fish pie is comfort food and a midweek treat all rolled into one. Creamy sauce, smoked fish and the crispy bits on the top of the mash…love it.
There’s lots of quick fish pie recipes out there, but you’ve got to wait for a pan of spuds to boil and it’s easy enough to poach some fish and knock up a quick fish sauce in that time.
I think you’ve got to have a smoked fish – something that will flake well like undyed cod or haddock – along with an unsmoked fish like a salmon fillet and some prawns. I like a few hard-boiled eggs but my better half doesn’t so they stay out – belting in a curry too, a hard boiled egg or two. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.
So, while a pan of spuds (enough to make a mash topping for your chosen dish) is boiling away, put the fish into a wide bottomed pan with a bay leaf, half an onion and some peppercorns. Add enough milk to just cover the fish and bring up to not-quite-boiling and simmer very gently for about five minutes – just long enough for you to be able to flake the fish. Take the fish out and strain the milk into the jug as it’s going into the cheese sauce next.
Easy cheese sauce with no measuring or weighing next – I’ve been making this for lasagnes since student days and it’s never failed me yet. It does need a strong cheese like an extra mature Welsh cheddar or add parmesan if you’ve got a milder cheese. If you’re doing it from scratch, it helps to warm about half a pint of milk in the microwave (with a bay leaf in it) before you start.
Using a teaspoon as if it were an ice scream scoop, scrape out a rough ball of butter and pop it into a small pan to melt. Whisking the butter, add a tablespoon of plain flour and whisk together for about a minute over a medium heat. Now add the still warm milk very gradually at first, whisking as you go. About half a pint of milk is about right. Let this come up to boiling while stirring and then turn the heat down. Add the cheese and stir until it melts through and the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add a scrape of nutmeg, black pepper and some chopped parsley – or don’t if you haven’t got them to hand, it’s fine without it. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.
Spuds should be done by now so make up the mash. Flake the fish into the dish with prawns and mix it up without breaking up the fish too much. Pour over the cheese sauce, add eggs or peas if you want to and top with mash. Rough up the top with a fork to get good crispy bits.
Into an oven at about 180 degC for 20-30 minutes until the mash has browned and you’re away. For me, it always needs some good crusty bread on the side
A very good friend of mine also does a mean Jamie Oliver Fantastic Fish Pie recipe which we spent a happy (and quite drunken) few hours making recently on a weekend in West Wales. Worth a look too as it uses a creme fraiche cheese sauce – not sure which book it’s in though, sorry!
This is currently the most visited post on easyteas – if you give it a try, please let me know what you think in the comments. If you’re looking for more quick and easy ideas, you can search recipes or subscribe to updates through the menus on the right. Thanks, Matt.