Indulgent Fish Pie
A word of warning – this is NOT a low-cal dish…but every now and again we need to indulge! I debated whether to create a lower-calorie option…I could have used low-fat spread instead of butter, skimmed milk instead of semi-skimmed, etc, but there are some recipes that I feel just need to be allowed to stay indulgent.
At ca. 660kcals per portion and 38% fat content, it isn’t an everyday recipe, but it can be incorporated into a healthy balanced diet if your other meals that day are lighter and if you don’t have one of these 5 times a week 🙂
- 650g fish pie mix, available from most fishmongers & supermarkets (or you can make your own mix by buying a variety of fish and chopping it into big chunks…typical mix includes fresh salmon, cod or haddock, natural smoked haddock or cod, sometimes also monkfish)
- 250g mussels (bought cooked & shelled)
- 180g raw king prawns
- 200g scallops (I used frozen Peruvian scallops today…you could use King Scallops but I feel that these are much nicer eaten as a dish in themselves, whereas when you buy frozen scallops, they tend to be smaller and without roe, which works better in this dish. The Peruvian variety I used today was particularly tender and tasty)
- 150g frozen petits pois
- 1.3-1.5kg potatoes (King Edward or Maris Piper work particularly well, but any variety of white potato that gives a nice creamy mash will be fine)
- 900ml semi-skimmed milk (750ml for Béchamel Sauce & 150ml for mashed potatoes)
- 100g butter (10g for softening garlic & shallots, 40g for the mashed potatoes, 20g to sauté the scallops & prawns and 30g for the Béchamel Sauce)
- 6 shallots
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4tbsp plain white flour
- salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 180ºC (fan-assisted…adjust temperature/cooking time for non-fan-assisted ovens)
- Peel and finely slice the shallots (preferably using a mandolin to ensure the slices are all similar in thickness and very very thin)
- Finely chop the garlic
- Peel and chop the potatoes into even chunks
- Cook (boil, steam or pressure-steam/cook the potatoes until soft but not water-logged/soggy), then mash with 40g butter and 150ml semi-skimmed milk, and leave to one side for later
In a wide saucepan or sauté pan, melt 10g of butter, then add the shallots & garlic
On a low heat, soften the shallots & garlic until they are translucent (as you’re not using much butter in this, you need to be particularly careful to keep the heat low and stir regularly to avoid the shallots caramelising; it sometimes helps to place a lid on the pan for a couple of minutes to use the steam generated this way to help the softening process)
Add 750ml of milk and lightly season with salt & pepper
Once the milk starts simmering, add the fish pie mix (not the other seafood ingredients)
Keep the heat low – do not boil!
Poach the fish pie mix gently in the milk for a couple of minutes (even if not completely cooked through at this stage, it doesn’t matter as it will keep cooking in the oven…over-cooking it now will make for a very dry & rubbery fish in the pie!), then lift out of the pan using a slotted spoon (in order to leave the milk behind) and place into the base of a large oven dish (approx. 26cm long by 20cm wide by 10cm high or, if using a shallower dish, it will need to be bigger or you’ll need to reduce quantities accordingly as the ingredients listed for this fish pie easily fill a dish that size)
In a small frying pan, melt 20g of butter and, once it starts sizzling, add the scallops & prawns
Season lightly with salt &pepper
These will only take a couple of minutes to cook; turn once halfway through cooking. It’s ok if the scallops caramelise a little…this adds to their unique sweetness. Don’t over-cook them or they’ll become really rubbery! Even if they’re still a bit raw, it doesn’t matter as they’ll finish cooking in the oven. Add them to the other fish in the oven dish.
Add the mussels and the petits pois to the oven dish.
In a saucepan, make the Béchamel sauce by starting off with 30g butter and 4tbsp plain white flour, then gradually adding the milk used to poach the fish pie mix (don’t worry if there are bits of shallot in there; they won’t harm the making of the sauce). For detailed instructions on making Béchamel sauce, click here (use the milk you’ve poached the fish in instead of cold milk…and don’t use any nutmeg!).
Pour the Béchamel Sauce onto the fish, scallops, prawns, mussels & petits pois in the oven dish and stir lightly/gently…just enough to ensure the sauce & other ingredients are evenly distributed. Be careful not to break up the fish too much.
Using a spatula, carefully cover the fish & sauce mixture with the mashed potatoes, starting off by placing mash around the edges of the dish, then working inwards. Make sure the mash is distributed evenly and smoothly, then use a fork to decorate it & loosen the surface (run the spikes of the fork down the surface gently, either in straight lines or waves or zigzags), as this will allow for crisping up in the oven.
Place the pie in the pre-heated oven for approx. 30 mins
Leave to stand for about 5 mins before serving, as this will make it easier to serve without it going too ‘sloppy’.
- (Tip: for extra creamy mash, you can add some double cream, or some low-fat greek yoghurt for a lower-fat alternative; mixing a raw egg yolk into the mash while it’s still warm and adding a sprinkling of freshly-grated nutmeg also makes for delicious mashed potato, but I wouldn’t recommend it in fish pie as that will give too many different flavours for the palate to deal with)
Serve with freshly steamed broccoli or other vegetables of choice.
This is such an essential ingredient in many dishes, yet people are often scared to make it in case it goes wrong. Here’s the thing: Yes, it can go wrong and, until you’ve done it a few times, is likely to go wrong on you on a number of occasions (it certainly did for me!), but it’s through those times when it goes wrong that you learn how to correct it and what mistakes not to repeat.
I will create a video recipe for this asap, but in the meantime wanted to post the basic recipe as I am using it in my Indulgent Fish Pie.
For enough Béchamel for a Fish Pie for 6 people, you will need:
- 30g butter
- 750ml semi-skimmed milk (for a richer, less health-conscious and more indulgent sauce, you can use a mixture of milk and single or even double cream, or use whole milk instead of semi-skimmed)
- 4tbsp plain white flour
- salt to taste
- (with the exception of Béchamel for Fish Pie, I usually also add a little bit of freshly-grated nutmeg)
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour & mix well over a low heat so you end up with a roux (a soft dough-like ball of flour & butter).
- Take off the heat and add a tiny bit of milk (traditionalists would say to always pre-heat the milk, though I’ve found that it works equally well with cold milk), mix this into the roux and only add a bit more milk at a time once the previous milk has been fully amalgamated into the roux.
- Gradually as you keep doing this, you will find that the roux starts to become more of a paste and then gradually begin to resemble a sauce.
- If you’re using cold milk, return the pan to a very low heat as soon as the roux becomes more of a paste, but ensure you stir continuously, even while adding more milk. This is the key – do not stop stirring!
- (Tip: If the sauce goes lumpy at this stage, stop adding milk and keep stirring over a low heat until it has thickened to a homogenous paste again, then start adding milk a tiny bit at a time again.)
- As soon as the mix is thin and ‘sauce-like’ enough to do so, start using a whisk instead of a wooden spoon/spatula to stir, as this will reduce the chances of lumps, but make sure you stir continuously and that you’re not whisking/beating the sauce but rather using the whisk in controlled movements, ensuring you constantly move the entire saucepan contents, especially paying attention to the base, so that no sauce has a chance to thicken up more at the bottom, thus forming lumps.
- Once you have added all the milk, keep stirring continuously and, as the mixture heats up, you will find it starts to thicken.
- Add salt to taste, and nutmeg (unless you’re using the Béchamel for a fish pie)
These quantities will give you a rich, velvety Béchamel that is quite thick. For thinner Béchamel, use less flour & butter (or more milk if you need more sauce), for thicker Béchamel, use more flour & butter.