Fisherman’s pie

They tell me it’s brain food. I remain unconvinced – I am absolutely no better at doing sums than I was before I cooked this, but I am deliciously full and thinking hard about marine biology.

This is a lovely take on fisherman’s pie, a thousand miles away from any variant you may have eaten in the school dining hall. Some of the fish is fresh, some smoked, and this gives it a deep, warm background without overdoing the smoky flavour. Sweet peas and prawns are balanced by a hit of lemon juice and nutmeg, and creamy mash makes a golden lid for the whole thing.

Although this is a fish dish, you’ll find it keeps well overnight in the fridge. This amount made two filling suppers for two greedy people with a sharply dressed green salad. I used frozen haddock fillets here, but you can use any firm, flaky white fish, frozen or fresh.

To serve four, you’ll need:

500g haddock fillets
200g smoked haddock
100g smoked salmon
100g peeled prawns, raw if possible
150g butter
50g plain flour
570ml milk
50g frozen peas
2 eggs
2 teaspoons capers in white wine vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
A few gratings of nutmeg
1kg potatoes (choose a floury variety like King Edward)
3 tablespoons double cream
Cheddar cheese to sprinkle

Preheat the oven to 200° C (400° F).

Lay the haddock (defrosted if frozen) and smoked haddock in the baking dish you plan to make the pie in – it should have a capacity of between 1.5 and 2 litres. Pour over half the milk and dot with 25g of butter. Season with plenty of pepper and bake for 20 minutes. Pour the liquid from the baking dish into a measuring jug, top up with the remaining milk and reserve. Remove any skin or bones from the cooked fish and flake it into large pieces in the baking dish.

Hard-boil the eggs, and quarter them. Combine them in the baking dish with the flaked fish, drained capers, the frozen peas, the prawns (raw or cooked, but defrosted if frozen) and the smoked salmon. (I used Waitrose’s flakes of hot-smoked salmon – if you can’t find hot-smoked salmon use the regular variety and use scissors to cut it into bite-sized pieces.)

Peel the potatoes and set them to boil as usual for the mashed potato topping. While the potatoes are boiling, melt 75g of the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook over a medium-low flame, stirring, for four minutes. Add the milk and fish cooking liquid a little at a time, stirring well after every addition until the sauce thickens. Continue until all the milk mixture is incorporated, and bring to a low simmer until the sauce thickens again. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the lemon juice and a grating of nutmeg. Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the baking dish.

Mash the potatoes well with the cream, 50g of the butter, another generous grating of nutmeg and plenty of salt and pepper. Spread or pipe the potatoes over the ingredients in the baking dish, and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the cheesy top is a golden brown.

8 Replies to “Fisherman’s pie”

  1. Ooohhh this looks delicious :O
    Can’t wait to give this a go.
    And hello ^_^
    Found your blog randomly reading through food blogs, like your writing style and choice of recipes, so onto my rss reader you go.

    Mmmm nomnoms, fishies…

  2. Hi Lauren! I blame my own familiarity with FP on being at an English boarding school in an era when cod was cheap, and having a Grandma from Grimsby, the moral home of the fish finger. I notice you are in Chicago. I am jealous.

  3. I made this this afternoon. This is only my 3rd proper meal I have cooked in my life. My wife & I loved it. Thank you for posting it.

    One very full but happy beginner cook.



  4. Know what, John? I think that’s the very nicest comment I’ve had on this blog in the three years I’ve been at it. I’m really glad you enjoyed it!

  5. I am amazed to read the comments posted in response to your recipe:

    “I’ve never heard of Fisherman’s pie before”.

    “This is only the third meal I have cooked”.

    In what sort of world do these people live?

  6. I didn’t think it was so surprising that someone in Chicago might not have heard of fisherman’s pie – and I thought it was absolutely brilliant that somebody coming to cooking as an adult wanted to make dinner for his wife. Perhaps you and I have rather different outlooks on what makes a world, John.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *