Fish pie is one of those nursery favourites that I at least, have never seemed to grow out of. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as we all should be getting more fish of all types into our diets and this old children’s supper is as good a way as any to start.
The health benefits of eating fish are wide ranging due to its high protein and fish oil make up. From the usual well documented Alzheimer’s (and other types of dementia) and heart disease risk reduction (due to its ability to lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce blood clotting) to helping fight arthritis and cancer all the way through to helping with depression, they pretty much tick all the important boxes. One study in Mauritius even found that children given lots of fish from the age of 3 were less likely to have criminal records by the age of 23. I’m not sure whether large quantities of fish really help keep our streets safer places, or indeed, how much you would have to eat to reduce any criminal tendencies, but I am hoping that my once or twice a week fish dinner will help my memory enough to stop me calling my husband by the children’s names. It hasn’t helped so far, but when it comes to food, I don’t give up easily. One of the great things though about this version of the classic is that, as well as all that fishy goodness, you’re also benefitting from the nutrient rich spinach, and one of my current favourite ingredients for a slightly spicing things up, watercress.
If you follow exact recipes, I find fish pies can get expensive, but if you start to think of them in the way that we used to, ie a way to use up any leftover fish as a soup does veg, you can change this. I tend to freeze any leftover bits of fish I have for just this purpose and then can top them up as needed whenever I fancy making this recipe. That’s part of the reason why I’m calling this go further fish pie; by adding your eggs and some veg, in my case the spinach and watercress, you can make those leftover bits of fish stretch much further and before you know it, you have another meal ready to go.
Go Further Fish Pie Recipe.
Serves 6 easy
750 g fish, I use a mix of salmon, any white fish, prawns, crab, smoked mackerel or haddock (is always good to have some smoked fish in there) am not even adverse to topping it all up with a tin of tuna.
750 g potatoes, mashed with a splash of milk and some butter
200g mix of watercress and spinach
3 hard boiled eggs
5 or so anchovies
50g plain flour
700 ml milk
First of all, poach your fish, not including any that is already cooked/ tinned in the milk (or some of it). This is one of the few jobs I tend to do in the microwave, mostly for speed. In a microwave on high power it will take around 3 minutes, depending on how big your pieces of fish are, on the job you will be looking at around 10.
Save the milk you poached it in then cook the watercress and spinach in a tablespoon of water.
Make your roux sauce. Melt the butter with the anchovies (torn up), remove from the heat then stir the flour through. Return the pan to the heat, then let cook for minute or so. Remove from the heat again.
Pour the milk in in small quantities. Usually I would say here that this step could be condensed down to just a few steps, but I have to say that if you want a lump free roux, then you really should take a bit of (not too much of course) time over this step and whisk like crazy.
Return the pan to the heat again, and gently bring to a boil them summer for around 6 minutes until it has lost that floury taste. Check the seasoning carefully.
Add the cooked spinach and watercress to the sauce, then blend the whole thing (I just use a hand held stick blender). Mash the eggs then mix into the sauce along with the fish.
Find a suitable oven proof dish to put the whole mixture in, then preheat the oven to around 180 deg C. Spoon the mashed potato over the top and rough up the surface so that it browns nicely in the oven.
Lots of people put cheese on the top of their fish pie at this stage but I have to say, it’s not top of my list of priorities and I don’t think that you’ll miss it, but if it’s to your taste then go for it.
Bake in the oven for around half an hour, then serve!