Winter Fish Pie

For some reason, I always associate eating fish with summer, maybe because I tend to want lighter food at that time of year and also because I associate good seafood with holidays in hot places; whatever the cause, as it gets colder most people want more filling and hearty cooking and a lightly sautéed piece of cod just won’t satisfy those cravings. A lovely, creamy pie though is the perfect way to have fish when the winter hits.

This recipe is a bit different to the standard version you normally see but not by much. The main addition is to the mash where I’ve used Jerusalem artichokes (just coming into season now) in a roughly 1:2 ratio with potato. I also add thinly sliced fennel to the sauce, not only for its great affinity with seafood but because it provides a bit of texture to a dish that sometimes seems like it has the consistency of baby food.

A common problem I’ve encountered too is overcooking the fish, I try to mitigate this by mixing the raw fish into the sauce off the heat and then putting the mixture in the fridge whilst I prepare the mash so it takes longer to heat in the oven: it leaves more time for a nice crust to develop on top without compromising what’s underneath. Finally, I’ve once again committed the heresy of pairing parmesan and seafood to aid the browning and provide a nice hit of umami.

Fish Pie

Serves: 2 (generously)

Ingredients:

4 medium potatoes (around 450g)
Grapeseed oil
100g butter, cubed and chilled
15g flour
100ml white wine
150ml fish stock
50ml double cream
125g fennel, thinly sliced
5ml fish sauce
White pepper, pinch
10g tarragon, finely chopped
2.5g dill
10g parsley
400g mixed white fish (hake, haddock, whiting, gurnard, ling or pollack etc)
150g undyed smoked white fish
300g Jerusalem artichokes
5ml lemon juice
200ml milk
Salt
Black pepper
25g parmesan, grated

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, coat the potatoes in oil and bake for 60-80 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are baking, melt 20g of butter over a low heat and stir in the flour.
  3. Cook the resulting paste for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Gradually whisk in the fish stock and wine to ensure no lumps are formed.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes to burn off some the alcohol.
  6. Add the cream, fennel, fish sauce, white pepper, dill and tarragon and simmer for twenty minutes.
  7. Check the seasoning and thickness of the sauce, it needs to be saltier and thicker than you want the end result to be as the fish will release water during baking.
  8. Mix the parsley and all the fish with the sauce and leave to cool in the fridge.
  9. Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and cut in half, add immediately to a pot with some water and the lemon juice to prevent browning.
  10. Bring the water to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until very tender.
  11. Put the artichokes in a blender with enough milk to allow them to be pureed to a very smooth consistency; if this results in a puree that is too thin, pass through a sieve and place in a pan over a medium heat and simmer until the consistency of creamed potatoes.
  12. When the potatoes are done, cut in half and scoop out the flesh into a potato ricer and press into a saucepan.
  13. Mix in the rest of the butter a couple of cubes at a time, waiting until they are completely melted and incorporated before adding any more.
  14. When all the butter is gone, stir the Jerusalem artichoke puree into the potatoes and mix vigorously.
  15. In a suitably deep dish, pour the fish in one layer on the bottom and top with the potato and artichoke mash.
  16. Sprinkle over the grated parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper. Dot with some butter too if desired.
  17. Place the pie into the oven at 180°C and cook for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.
  18. Leave to cool for five minutes before dividing between both plates.

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