There are cries of protest at any attempt to remove this popular fish pie from the menu at our cafés. Carefully made with the right balance of meaty chunks of fish, creamy sauce and cloud-like mash, it is comfort food at its best. Serves six to eight.
YOU WILL NEED
600g organic salmon fillet
600g monkfish fillet
300g smoked haddock or coley
1 lemon, halved and zested
Small glass dry white wine
2 large carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
125ml fish cooking liquid
125ml vegetable stock
120g roux (see below)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp dill, chopped
100g grated mature Cheddar cheese
For the roux
For the creamy mash
1kg Rooster potatoes, peeled
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 5, then start by preparing the fish. Remove the skin and all the pin bones from the fillets, then dice the flesh into 5cm squares. Next, make the roux. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, add the flour and cook for five to six minutes stirring all the time. This allows the flour to cook and gives the roux a nice blonde colour. A roux will keep for up to four weeks in the fridge.
Next, zest the lemon. Then cut the grated lemon in half and place in a shallow sautétype pan along with the diced fish, some of the parsley stalks, the white wine and just enough water to cover. Simmer the fish gently for six to eight minutes, no longer; don’t worry if it isn’t totally cooked through as it will be going into the oven later.
Using a slotted spoon, gently remove the fish from the stock and place in an earthenware dish. Remove the lemon and parsley stalks from the stock and continue to simmer until it has reduced to around 125ml.
While the stock is reducing, cook the carrot and celery in a little water until al dente, about six to eight minutes. Remove the vegetables from the cooking liquid and add to the earthenware dish, along with the fish. Simmer the remaining liquid, allowing it to reduce. This is a simple, tasty stock and will be used to flavour and lighten the final sauce.
Place both types of stock in a large saucepan, add the cream and lemon zest and heat gently. Once the liquid is hot, start whisking in the roux — add three-quarters initially, as you may not need it all. Cook on a gentle heat for four to five minutes until the sauce has thickened to a good coating consistency.
If you think it is a bit runny, whisk in the remaining roux and allow the sauce to simmer for a further three minutes. Season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper and a little salt ( smoked fish can have a high salt content so don’t overdo it here) and stir in half the chopped herbs. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Now, pour the sauce over the fish and vegetables in the ovenproof dish, mixing it gently between the pieces of fish. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs and smooth the top slightly with a knife or the back of a spoon. Scatter the grated Cheddar, if using, on top of the filling before you pipe on the mash.
Using a piping bag and a large star-shaped nozzle, pipe the mash generously over the top and then return to the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the mash is golden and crisp and the filling piping hot. If you don’t have a piping bag, just put the mash on top and fork it lightly to make it look pretty. To make the creamy mash: Steam the potatoes until cooked then pass through a mouli or mash really well. In a small saucepan, heat the cream, milk and butter together.
Pour over the hot potatoes, mix well and season with salt and pepper.