On Good Friday I embarked on my annual task of making this fabulous fish pie...it is so good that I would like to make it more often, but it always seems to take me such a long time (and the taste is so nice that I can't seem to bring myself to make faster/easier versions). So, even if it is only once a year, it is nice to have a few hours pottering in the kitchen with this as a reward...
You'll have to excuse the photo quality - the light in my flat of an evening casts a dreadful colour on everything...it did taste good!
I originally got the recipe for this fish pie from Divertimenti when I attended one of their cooking schools a few years ago. The recipe states that it serves 6-8, but they are very generous portions. I halved the quantities listed below when I made this on Friday, and it would still give 4 very large portions.
Fabulous Fish Pie
450g cod fillet
450g smoked haddock fillet
225g fresh peeled cooked prawns
1 kg fresh baby leaf spinach (I not only halved this, but halved it again. i.e I put 250g in the dish above and still though there was a good ratio of spinach to fish)
Salt & pepper
1 large spanish onion (quartered)
80g plain flour
2 pints milk
1 bay leaf
4 teaspoons anchovy essence (I left this out as I didn't have any in the pantry)
1 big bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
150 freshly grated parmesan
(Mashed potato for topping)
1. Preheat oven to 180/Gas 4
2. Place onion, bayleaf, grated nutmeg and milk in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 20-30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile wash spinach and place in a large pan over a medium heat. Turn spinach leaves continually until they have wilted/collapsed (the quantity will reduce dramatically). Drain/squeeze off excess water in a colander, roughly chop and leave aside.
4. Stain infused milk through a sieve, discarding the onion etc. Pour infused milk into a pan with a large surface area. Place fish skin side down, cover with a piece of damp greaseproof paper or lid and poach gently for 10-15 minutes. This can also be done in the oven in a non-stick roasting tin covered with foil for approximately 15-20 minutes. The flesh will turn creamy but still stay firm and moist. Remove the fish to a plate and allow to cool. Keep the infused milk (which now has a wonderful flavour) for the bechamel sauce.
5. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour, stirring to a paste (roux). Remove from the heat and very gradually add the milk, off the heat, stirring well between each addition to avoid the sauce becoming lumpy. When all of the milk has been incorporated return the pan to the heat and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring continuously until it thickens. Add the anchovy essence.
6. Remove the skin and any pin bones from the fish and flake roughly into a mixing bowl. Add the prawns, chopped spinach and parsley and stir in the bechamel sauce. Season to taste.
7. Pour the fish mixture into an ovenproof dish, and cover with an even layer of mashed potato. Sprinkle with grated parmesan. Bake in a preheated over for about 30 mins until lightly golden and sauce is bubbling hot.