Okay, stay with me now. I know that the words “fish” and “pie” do not sound good together. I know that right now, you’re probably thinking that I must have lost my marbles one day and just threw everything in a pot because life is too hard and I was tired and the kids were yelling. But I didn’t. English fish pie is a thing, guys. And it’s really hearty and tasty. Trust me on this.
We had English fish pie a few months ago at a fish ‘n chippy (code for a fish and chips restaurant) near our house called the Seashell at Lisson Grove. We love this little neighborhood joint — there are several different types of fish on offer, and in addition to the traditional flour-based breading, you can get a panko-fried version as well. The kids also love that if you dine in, the chips (fries) are BOTTOMLESS. Yes, friends, you can eat fries to your heart’s (dis)content.
On our first visit to Seashell at Lisson Grove, my brother-in-law ordered the English fish pie, just to mix things up. I wasn’t sure about this choice, mainly because it’s FISH in a PIE. When the dish hit our table in a small baking dish, steaming hot and with a solid, golden brown crust of mashed potatoes slathered on top, I have to admit — I was intrigued. Underneath the golden crust was a delightful mix of fish coated in a creamy sauce not unlike a thick chowder. The mashed potatoes were a nice filler to break up the richness of the fish pie, and it’s really a delightful, stew-like winter dish. We all crowded around the fish pie, spoons poised (because in our family, no dish in a group dinner truly belongs to one person) and devoured that fish pie. We destroyed that fish pie.
Since then, I’ve made fish pie at home. It’s a really impressive-looking one-dish dinner. I serve mine with a side salad or two, mainly just to lighten up the dinner a bit. Well, it’s also because my kids apparently are bottomless pits of appetite, and I can’t just throw one dish on the table anymore and be done with it. You can also prep this meal in advance and refrigerate it a day or two in advance, leaving just the baking part for whenever you’re about to serve.
Are you convinced yet? Try it. I PROMISE you’ll change your mind about fish and pies. They go together like chocolate and cake. Trust me.
Below recipe inspired by this BBC Good Food recipe
- 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 scallions, finely sliced
- 2 cups milk (including a ¼ cup for the mashed potatoes)
- 1 salmon filet
- 1 cod filet
- 1 haddock filet (if not available, use a second cod filet)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- a small bunch of chives, snipped
- ½ cup frozen corn
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- paprika, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter an ovenproof baking dish (use a casserole dish; a 9x13 might be too big).
- Rinse the fish under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the fish into 1-inch chunks and set aside.
- Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with enough water so that the water level is at least an inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer until tender (the potatoes should give easily when speared with a fork).
- Drain the potatoes in a colander set over a big bowl. Return the hot pot to the stove and heat ¼ cup of the milk and butter over low heat until steaming but not boiling. Return the potatoes to the pan and gradually mash the potatoes in the pot, folding in the milk and butter as you go. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt, because you'll have cheese in the fish pie which will make the dish saltier). Set aside.
- Melt the butter, flour and spring onions in another pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter has melted, stirring regularly. Cook for 1 -2 mins. Gradually whisk in the milk using a balloon whisk if you have one. Bring to a boil, stirring/whisking vigorously to avoid any lumps and sticking at the bottom of the pan. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes until thickened.
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in half the cheese (if using), fish, mustard, chives, corn and peas. Spoon into an ovenproof dish.
- Spread the mashed potato on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese. Sprinkle paprika on top. (Note: at this point you can cover and refrigerate until you're ready to bake).
- Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 mins or until golden and bubbling at the edges.