Fishy Business

Again, this is another recipe we chose to serve as our pescetarian choice at our first Dinner at the Manor event. Nigella’s Blakean fish pie, which is pretty much a standard fish pie, has the addition of saffron and mace which adds a spicy undertone to the flavour.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sample the pie that evening so I decided to make it again this weekend as a lazy Sunday dinner for a rainy day. Sometimes on days like this nursery food is what you really need – something warming, which can just be eaten with a fork!

When Martini Man and I made it for the event, we ended up making a few amendments to Nigella’s recipe, namely the types of fish. To be honest, it can be made with any fish you like, but really do try and seek out sustainable fish – you just need to make up to about 800g.

Within this 800g we also decided to include some smoked fish, as I think a fish pie isn’t a fish pie without smoked fish! It also adds an addition depth of flavour which works so well with the mace and saffron. For the supperclub we used pollock, hake and smoked “fillet” that Martini Man procured from Leeds market – after investigating said fillet, I think it was hake! But as you’ll see from the recipe below, you can use anything!

Also, Nigella uses a carrot for poaching and then throws it away… I myself cannot bear to do this so it gets chopped up and added to the pie!

Give this recipe a try, it’s a nice twist on an old classic.

Blakean Fish Pie

For the Filling
800g mixed fish (I used 400g coley, 150g salmon, 250g smoked pouting)
100g raw prawns
1 carrot cut in half, and then cut lengthways, so you have about 8 batons
125ml white wine
1 bouquet garni (I used 1/2 stick celery, bay leaf, thyme and parsley tied together)
50g butter
250ml single cream
4 level tbsp plain flour
Ground mace – 1/2 tsp
A pinch of saffron, steeped in a tbsp hot water

Mashed Potatoes
1kg floury potatoes – boiled
80g unsalted butter

To Glaze
1 egg

In a deep saucepan, add the carrots, the wine, the bouquet garni, a pinch of salt and 125 ml of water into a wide, deep pan and bring to the boil.

Turn down to a simmer and add in the fillets of fish for about 3-4 mins. Remove the fish to one side to cool slightly and then strain the cooking liquid into a measuring jug.

Take out the carrots, dice and then set aside. Also, reserve the bouquet garni as you will need this for the sauce.

Add the cream to the cooking liquid and top it up to about 500ml.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the flour and the mace. Cook off the flour for a few minutes and then take off the heat. Slowly add the cream mixture, stirring all of the time so that no lumps form. Place the pan back on the heat, add the bouquet garni and the saffron and keep stirring until you have a nice smooth, thick sauce. Take off the heat, remove the  bouquet garni and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Break up the fish into chunks and add to a pie dish along with the prawns and the carrots.

Top with the mash (using the ingredients detailed above), smooth over and then wash with the beaten egg. Using a fork, ruffle up the mash and then cook in a 190C oven for about 30-40 minutes.

You can make the dish in advance, just make sure that all of the fish and the sauce are cold before you assemble.

Eat with some nice green veg – peas are usually the way to go, but we had it with mustardy green beans and the rest of the bottle of wine used for the sauce!

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