Curried fish pie
Few meals, indeed few things in life, are as comforting and reassuring as a fish pie, piping hot from the oven. Adding some gently sweated onion and a good whack of curry powder to the usual recipe produces a startlingly good result.
Put the fish fillets in a pan and add the milk, vegetables, bay leaf and peppercorns. Place over a low heat. As soon as the milk comes to a simmer, switch off the heat and cover the pan. The fish will carry on cooking in the hot milk. After about 5 minutes, it should be just cooked through; if not, leave it in the hot milk for a little longer, then drain in a sieve placed over a bowl, reserving the milk. Discard the vegetables, bay leaf and peppercorns.
Now make a béchamel sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir well to make a roux. Cook gently for a couple of minutes, stirring every few seconds, then gently whisk in a third of the fishy milk. Add another third of the milk, whisking all the time, and then the final third, so that you end up with a smooth, creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down low and cook very gently for 2 minutes.
Peel the skin off the fish, check for any bones and gently break the flesh into chunks. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until translucent and soft. Stir in the curry powder or paste and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add the curry-flavoured onion to the béchamel, then stir in the flaked fish, the prawns, if using, and the coriander. Taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper or curry powder/paste if you think it needs it.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut it to fit the top of the dish. Put the filling into the dish. Dampen the rim of the dish, lift the pastry over the filling and press down the pastry edges to seal. Brush with a little beaten egg and place in an oven preheated to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and puffed and the fishy sauce is bubbling underneath.
Serve with buttered peas or greens.
For the fish:
- 2 fillets (about 600g) of firm white fish, such as pollack or coley
- 200g smoked pollack or kippers
- 750ml whole milk
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- A few peppercorns
For the pie:
- 75g unsalted butter
- 75g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or groundnut oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fairly hot curry powder or curry paste
- 1-2 handfuls of cooked peeled prawns (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
- 250g puff pastry
- A little beaten egg for glazing
This recipe is taken from...
If you like this recipe, you might like the following course...
Brimming with practical advice and delicious recipes, the one-day Fish Cookery course at River Cottage Cookery School is an absolute must...