What constitutes a 'luxury fish pie', I promise it not just a fancy title. I think this recipe is pretty luxury because it has three types of fish, fresh prawns and creamed mash as a topping. But there are so many fish pie recipes out there, the topping can be potato slices, simple mash or filo/puff pastry, it really is so super versatile, that you need to have some differentiating factors. On top of that, you can bulk out your fish pie with peas, spinach or eggs - less fish more filler helps to bring down the costs. But for me, my luxury fish pie is a winner every time and that's because it's simply but packed with fresh ingredients.
Ingredients for Fish Pie:
900g baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
570ml milk (semi-skimmed preferably)
150ml milk (for mixing into the creamed mash)
225g smoked haddock
220g cod or pollock (the latter fish is cheaper)
250g fresh prawns
Splash of double cream
Ingredients for Parsley Sauce:
Big bunch of Fresh Parsley (chopped as finely as you can)
85g butter (salted)
30g plain flour
570ml milk (the milk you've cooked the fish in)
3tbsp of Double Cream (or a generous pour)
Seasoning (use white pepper if you can)
Right, to action stations:
In a large pan of salted water, put your peeled and evenly cut potatoes and bring to the boil (covered). Keep covered and at a gentle simmer until you can easily pass a table knife through them. It is really important for creamed mash that all the potatoes are evenly and perfectly cooked. This should take about 8-10mins depending on how big your pieces are.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, take out a large casserole pan and lay your fish skin side down in the bottom of the pan, the fish can lay on top each other in a criss-cross but try not to build up a great depth of fish. I like to add a slice of lemon, 5 peppercorns and a bay leaf, followed by the milk. The milk should cover the fish just, so if you con't need all of the milk put it to one side.
Place the casserole pan on the hob and put the lid on. Bring slowly up to simmer and then move the pan about so that all the fish are getting covered by the milk, after about 3mins of the fish cooking in the simmering milk, turn off the heat, leave the lid of the casserole pan on and leave the steam to keep cooking the fish for another 5-7mins. Over cooked fish is horrid, so the best way to see if cooked, is to press on the thickest area - if it starts to crumble away, take the lid off until the contents of the casserole has cooled.
Once cooled, get out casserole dish (metal, ceramic - either works fine) but try to make sure it's a little prettier than the normal kitchen paraphernalia, as this is going to be what you serve in. Pick your pieces of fish out of the milk and break them into chunks into the serving dish. Make sure you have nice big chunks and that as you lay them, you are scattering them about so that the different fish colours are inter-mixed.
Once the task is completed, cover and set aside.
So, back to the potatoes, these should be evenly cooked by now and once they are, take them off the heat and drain. Whilst draining in the colander, give your pot a quick wash and dry - you don't want water coming into contact with your mash. Now, take out your potato ricer and start pushing through the potatoes. If you don't have a potato ricer, you will need to mash your potatoes roughly and then pass them through a fine wire sieve - this will create the same effect but does take a lot longer and a huge amount of will-power. It is worth it though.
Once you have riced all your potatoes back into the pan, push them into a corner (humm, making sense here, corner in a round pan?!?). What I mean is make sure that all the potato is piled high on one side so that you can see the base of the pan. Take the pan back to the stove, and start to warm the butter and milk which has been placed in the empty space at the bottom of your pan, once warm and melted, beat in the potato until you have the right consistency for your creamed potato topping - you want it firm but loose enough to pipe. You want both these elements warmed (melted), as this helps when combining/beating the butter and milk into your riced potato. Now season and taste. Tasting is such a great part of cooking - chef's perks!! After you've added the seasoning, pour in a 1tbsp of the double cream, incorporate and if you think the mash will hold a little more, add - but remember, if your creamed mash becomes too loose, it will sink into your fish pie, rather than being the crust.
Now put your potato into a piping bag, twist the end and sit upside down in a measuring jug. It's on to the making of the Parsley Sauce.
So, I will assume that you all know how to make a roux sauce but for those who don't. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour and combine. Let this cook for about 2mins, stirring constantly. Now take it off the heat and gradually (with a whisk), add the milk which the fish were cooked in. It will go thick and then thin but don't worry because once you have combined, put the saucepan back on the heat and bring to a simmer but whisk all the time - especially in the saucepan's corners. The sauce will start to thicken up pretty quickly, so take it off the heat once it is to a consistency you like - I think once it covers the back of wooden spoon and you can draw your finger down to leave a nice clear path/line, your sauce is ready. Pour in your double cream and whisk again, the cream will help to thicken the sauce a little more and then add in all the fresh chopped parsley.
You are so nearly there - turn on the oven to 200c/Gas6 because now it's time to build the Fish Pie. Uncover your cooked fish, place/scatter the raw prawns around the casserole dish and then pour the parsley sauce over. Make sure everything is really well covered. Then with a spoon make sure that the sauce and fish are combined (simply push a round with the spoon). Now leave to cool for about 5-10mins, you will probably need to reheat your creamed mash in the microwave for about 1-2mins (trying to pip cold creamed mash is an utter disaster, believe me, I've tried on many occasions, it just doesn't work!).
When pipping the creamed mash, make little spots of mash rather than heavy lines (if possible). So squeeze the bag and push into the mash as it's coming out gently. Once you have pipped the whole dish, you are ready to sit back - because all you need to-do now if put it in the oven and let it cook until golden brown for 40-45mins.
It will be utterly delish served with some fresh peas but equally fabulous if served on it's own!