Fabulous Fish PIe


I made and meant to post this eons ago as this is probably the dish that elicits the most satisfied sighs from hubby, but at the time I didn't have the opportunity to take a pic. Today though, I am making it again and trying to be more organised. Tonight we are heading off to see Wes Anderson's latest - The Grand Budapest Hotel with our dear friends Netty and Andy, then back to our place for dinner. The amount I have made serves 6-8, but the left-overs will easily keep for another day in the fridge for careful re-heating...Fish Pie has got to be the most nurturing dinner around with creamy leeks, onions and smoked fish livened up with lemon, parsley and a little cayenne kick topped with cheesy mashed potato and celeriac. Drooling. If you can't get celeriac or aren't inclined, no bother, just make the mash with potatoes alone - it'll still be delicious! (Whoops - time to get going!!!) Little retrospective note here - please excuse the creative license with the styling, I have to say fish pie is inherently not particularly photogenic!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small brown onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into fine dice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small leeks, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1/2 cm rounds
3/4 cup cream
1 bay leaf
1 cup peas

500g smoked fish, flaked into chunks and checked for bones
450g firm fresh fish cut into big chunks (I used gurnard)
pinch cayenne
grated zest of half a lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
3 boiled eggs, peeled and cut into wedges, optional

B├ęchamel Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
5 tbsp plain flour

1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mashed potatoes:

3 medium agria or other floury potatoes, cut into large chunks
250g celeriac, trimmed and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cream
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
25g butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large casserole dish and cook onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper over a medium/gentle heat until starting to soften - about 8 minutes. Add leeks, cream and bay leaf and cook continue cooking for 20 minutes until leeks are silky and soft. Add peas and fresh fish and gently cook for a final 5 minutes until fish is just cooked through. Add smoked fish, cayenne, lemon zest and parsley and set to one side and very gently fold to combine. (Add boiled eggs now too if using).

You can make the B├ęchamel Sauce either on the stove top, or in the microwave. The method is very similar. On the stove top, heat the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until just melted. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Add  the milk and wine in three lots, stirring continuously, until well incorporated. Add nutmeg, dijon, salt and pepper. Keep stirring while cooking over the heat until the sauce is thickened and smooth. If it misbehaves, just whisk it with a wire whisk until smooth - it should finish thick and silky. Add the parmesan and stir to combine. Yum. Leave to cool slightly then gently fold into fish mixture, being careful not to break up the chunks of fish.

Put the potatoes and celeriac in a pot filled with cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a gentle boil and cook until both the poattoes and celeriac can be easily pierced with the point of a small knife. Drain really well, add the butter then mash until smooth. Heat the butter and cream and add to the potatoes, beating with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and transfer the fish pie mix to a   x  oven proof dish. Spoon the mash on top (I used an ice-cream scoop to plop out even sized blobs) then roughly smooth (oxymoron much?!) with a small knife, making the odd wavy indent to catch the grated cheese that's about to go on. Sprinkle with Parmesan and dot with butter. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and bubbling. Leave to cool for just a few minutes then dig in. Serves 8. I served mine with a simple kale salad dressed with a vinaigrette.