Fisherman are at the mercy of the sea. High winds and storms make for highly treacherous journeys just to make a living. Often fish stocks are low and they return home, back to harbour, with empty nets and out of pocket. It's no surprise then that fish is quite expensive and indeed in terms of everyday food a luxury. For this reason I tend to buy various bits of fish when I see them and then freeze them. When I have enough it's fish pie time.
The base of this dish is white fish like cod or haddock or the more sustainable coley or pollock. I like to put some smoked fish in as well as this really boosts the flavour. I won't pretend this is simple to make as it really is a bit of a faff with numerous pots and pans cooking different things. I really think it is worth it though and makes the most of small pieces of the fishermen's precious cargo.
With the vegetables included in this dish, plus my further suggestions at the bottom of the recipe, I am sending this to Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food For Families and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours for their Extra Veg challenge.
Equipment: Deep-sided frying pan, large saucepan, medium saucepan, oven proof dish.
Around 1lb (450-500g) Mixture of white and smoked fish
About ¾ pint (450ml) Milk
1½lbs (700g) Potatoes, peeled and diced
2tbsp (30ml) Plain flour
3oz (85g) Frozen peas
3oz (85g) Frozen sweetcorn
1oz (28g) Unsalted butter
2oz (56g) Cheddar cheese, grated
1. Put the fish into a large pan and cover with ½ pint (300ml) of the milk.
2. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer until the fish is cooked and starts to flake.
3. Meanwhile boil the potatoes pieces until they are ready for mashing.
4. Take the fish out of the pan once it is cooked. Do not discard the poaching milk. Break up the fish onto a plate making sure to remove any skin or bones.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.
6. Sieve the poaching milk back into the measuring jug so any skin debris is left behind.
7. Add enough milk to make the quantity back up to ½ pint (300ml).
8. In a saucepan put the flour and milk. Turn the hob onto the highest heat and whisk continuously until it starts to thicken.
9. Add the peas and sweetcorn and then the fish. Heat through for a couple of minutes.
10. Drain the potatoes and then mash them with the butter.
11. Pour the fish mixture into an oven proof dish.
12. Spread the mash across the top of the fish mixture. Use a fork to make sure it is all covered.
13. Sprinkle over the cheese and cook for 25 minutes.
- For the mash also use other root vegetables such as swede, parsnips and carrots mixed with the potato.
- Add some leeks or spring onions to the mash.
- Instead of the peas and sweetcorn use finely chopped fresh vegetables such as broccoli (stalks are good as well), cauliflower and carrots.
- Go posh! Add some salmon pieces and prawns.
- Use an alternative hard British cheese instead of Cheddar. For some colour try Red Leicester or Double Gloucester.
- I keep 50g bags of breadcrumbs in the freezer. Add some for some extra texture on top.