We didn’t eat a whole lot of fish when we lived in Australia. We were a beef and chicken family and if we did eat seafood it was always either yummy tiger prawns or economical tinned tuna. Adjusting to not being a primarily beef-eating family took some getting used to the first 12 months we lived in the U.K. Pork is way bigger in the U.K than back home but fish seems to be more prominent here too. For example, if you get battered fish at the Fish and Chip shop in the U.K there’s actually more fish than there is batter (shocking!).
So to cut a long story a little short, I’ve only eaten Fish Pie twice in my life and this masterpiece of creamy, fishy deliciousness was the second one.
After eating and now making it I think it’s a recipe that’s definitely come from the same generation that created Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie. The beauty of these kinds of meals is that they require minimal ingredients that are mostly cheap and easy to come by and that the delightful flavour is all in the masterful seasoning along the way.
The kids and I think it’s pretty yummy and I love that it’s very easy to make with some left over for the next day to boot! Served with a salad or cooked veggies on the side it makes a pretty healthy meal for my kids with minimal effort. Definitely a winner in our books.
I used frozen fish and mixed together Salmon, Cod and Haddock (not really planned I just didn’t have enough of any one of the three in the freezer to use only one). You can use whatever fish you like and by all means use fresh fish if you can afford it. The amount of mash is totally up to you and the capacity of your casserole dish.
I feel I would have liked it with a bit more fish so I might add another fillet or two next time around. If you’re not a fan of fish, this is a great meal to mask any fishy flavour you might not ordinarily be a fan of. If your kids turn their noses up at any fish that’s not been deep-fried then I would recommend giving this Fish Pie recipe a go.
What You’ll Need:
A Big Casserole Dish or 2 smaller ones
Boneless Fish fillets (fresh or frozen) – the amount of fish and the type is totally up to you – I used 7 fillets (Approximately 800g/28 oz/1.75lbs)
5 or 6 Medium Potatoes (about 1kg/35 oz)
1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons (or 100g) of Butter + extra for the mashed potato
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon (or 50g) of Plain/All-Purpose Flour
600mL’s (20 oz) of Milk + a little extra for the mashed potato (make sure you have at least 1 Litre (35 oz) of milk available, just in case)
Salt and Pepper
small bunch of Fresh Parsley, leaves only and chopped (optional)
1/2 cup of Frozen Peas (optional)
1/2 of a Large Onion, diced finely (optional)
Cheese for grating on top (optional)
Grease your casserole dish(es) and place your fish fillets evenly spread on the bottom (it’s okay if they overlap), season with a little salt and cracked black pepper
Pour in enough milk to ensure the fish fillets are covered halfway up. For me in the two dishes this was about 500mL’s of milk give or take a little
Place in your oven at 180 C/ 350 F in the centre and set the timer for 20 minutes
Peel and chop your potatoes into evenly sized chunks (recently I tried putting whole peeled potatoes in a pot instead of chopping and was surprised to discover it worked just fine…make mash however you’re comfortable though!). Place in a big pot and cover with water (about an inch or two higher than your potatoes). Bring to the boil and boil until a knife glides through the potato). You don’t need the potatoes until after your fish is cooked and your white sauce is made but it’s worth getting it bubbling away early and putting it aside once drained until you’re ready to mash it
My fish was frozen so I checked on it half way through the cooking time and rearranged them a little to ensure even cooking and to make sure the ones piled on top didn’t end up dried out. If your frozen fish appears to still be frozen then leave it in longer
When your potatoes are done, drain them and leave them stand in the pot until we’re ready for them later
Pull the fish out of the oven and drain the milk into a big jug. Be careful not to burn yourself, I kept my oven gloves firmly on and used a small plate to hold the fish in the casserole dish whilst I drained the milk out. I got about 500mL’s out. You’ll be using this milk for your white sauce in a moment so don’t throw it out!
If any of your fish had a skin on it (my salmon did) then it should just gently peel off with a fork. My Eddie was one very happy kitty when I dropped the skins in his food bowl
Make sure you scrape out any gunky residue left around the sides by the milk. Give the fish a gentle mash with the fork until it sort of crumbles apart into bite sized pieces and spread it over the bottom of your casserole dish
I had to re-balance my fish between the two dishes, the layer was a bit thicker than pictured
Now for your lovely white sauce! Top up the milk you reserved (the fishy stuff) with a little more milk until your jug has 600mL’s (20 oz’s) of milk in it
In a fry pan or a medium saucepan melt your butter over medium-high heat
Remove from heat and stir in the flour until you have a very thick buttery consistency
Pop it back onto the heat for 30 seconds before beginning to add in your milk VERY SLOWLY whilst stirring
It might have a few teensy lumps but that’s no biggy
Keep stirring and adding your milk gradually until it’s all in and then continue stirring whilst it thickens up to the consistency in the 4th picture below
Salt and pepper this gorgeous sauce to taste and add 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg. We used 1 teaspoon of nutmeg but that may have been a little too much for others, it was borderline too strong for me! Definitely taste test after you’ve added Salt, Pepper and the Nutmeg and by all means add an extra 1/2 tsp if the Nutmeg flavour is too subtle
The most important thing here is that you like the flavour of this sauce. If it’s not seasoned well then your whole fish pie will be bland. Never fear though, you can always add more Salt and Pepper at the table once it’s served if it’s not perfect
Remove sauce from heat
Gently stir in the Frozen Peas and diced onion
Pour over the top of the fish in your casserole dish (divide between the two if you’re using two smaller dishes)
Gently mix the sauce through the fish and spread it out with back of your spoon
If using fresh parley then sprinkle it over the top of the mixture. If you’re replacing fresh parsley with dried parsley then you should add the dried parsley a little at a time to your white sauce until you are happy with the flavour
Add a little butter to your mash (I used about 2 Tablespoons), mash it and add a dash of milk if you’d like it a bit smoother
Drop the mash on top of your creamy fish mixture and spread it out with a fork
Fluff it up a little and grate cheese on top
Place on the middle shelf of your 180 C/ 350F oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top (check half way through if your oven runs very hot)
Serve with salad, cooked veggies or some buttered crusty bread (yum)!