Sunday 19 November 2017

Fish and fennel with saffron mash

Sophie Conran

This pie came from my love of fish stew, which combines fennel, tomato and saffron. The colours are fantastic.

Serves six



75g (2¾oz) butter

300g (10oz) skinless salmon fillet

265g (9½oz) skinless haddock fillet

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1cm (½in) cubes, plus the frilly top

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large red chilli, finely sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp tomato purée

400g (14oz) tin plum tomatoes

200g (7oz) firm plum tomatoes, such as pink

jester, peeled and halved

1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1 handful fresh tarragon leaves, chopped


300ml (10fl oz) milk

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp saffron threads

900g (2lb) Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and


100ml (3½fl oz) olive oil


Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Use a little of the butter to grease two large pieces of foil and place the salmon on one piece and the haddock on the other.

Sprinkle the fennel tops over each. Draw together the edges of the foil to create parcels and place them on a baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. The fish will still remain slightly raw in the middle.

Heat the oil and the rest of the butter in a large frying pan.

Dump in the onion and fry until soft and translucent, being careful not to let it brown.

Add the fennel cubes and fry for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic, chilli and salt and freshly ground pepper. Gently fry for a further four minutes.

Stir in the tomato purée, and fry for another minute.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if it becomes dry. Remove the pan from the heat and add the fresh tomatoes. Set aside.

Once the mixture has cooled completely, stir in the herbs.

Flake the fish into large chunks, and add it to the mixture. Stir it to combine but be careful not to break up the fish. Set it aside and make the mash.

Heat the milk with the garlic and saffron threads in a pan to almost boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse.

Cook the potatoes in plenty of salted water for 15 to 20 minutes or until very tender when poked with a sharp knife.

Drain well, return to the pan and mash them a little.

Place the potatoes and the milk infusion in a bowl, and blend them using an electric whisk.

Pour the oil into the mixture in a steady stream, whisking all the time, until all the oil is combined with the potato.

Place the fish mixture in a pie dish and top with the saffron mash, then take a fork and rough the surface of the mash to form small peaks. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

I like to serve this with French beans, cooked then mixed through with butter and chopped garlic.

Irish Independent

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