Fish Pie

What is it about November weather that shouts fish pie? That deep richness of the creamy parsley sauce, the smokey salmon along with the luxury of the boiled eggs and spinach. I seem to be making this so regularly recently that it has become a staple in the house. It never disappoints.


For the potato topping

  • 1.5kg/3lb 5oz potatoes (such as King Edwards, Maris Piper)
  • salt and white pepper
  • butter, to taste
  • 100g/3½oz grated Gruyère

For the poaching broth

  • 1 litre/1 pint 15fl oz fish stock
  • 4 tbsp dry vermouth
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bulb of fennel, cored and chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch saffron

For the fish

  • 750g/1lb 10oz whitefish (such as haddock, hake, sea bass or halibut)
  • 250g/9oz smoked haddock
  • 200g/7oz salmon
  • 120g/4oz raw prawns

For the parsley sauce

  • 75g/2½oz unsalted butter
  • 75g/2½oz plain flour
  • 150ml/5fl oz full-fat milk
  • large handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 150ml/5fl oz double cream
  • salt and white pepper

To assemble the pie

  • butter, to grease the dish
  • 125g/4½oz leaf spinach
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 25g/1oz ciabatta crumbs
  • 25g/1oz grated parmesan cheese

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Make the topping  boil the potatoes in salted water and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain them and mash with a ricer, add salt, white pepper and butter to taste. Stir in the Gruyère and set aside and keep warm.
  3. Place the fish stock, vermouth, onion, fennel, carrot, celery, bay leaf and saffron in a large pan and bring it all to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Put all the fish into the broth and poach for three minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the fish from the pan and set aside.
  4. Pour the broth through a sieve into a clean pan, throw away the vegetables and herbs. Bring the broth back to the boil and simmer until reduced by half.
  5. For the parsley sauce: heat the butter and flour together in a pan over a low heat, keep stirring to make a paste. Add the reduced broth  a ladleful at a time, be sure to keep  stirring to make sure it is combined. Add the milk and the parsley, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes. Add the double cream to the pan and season, to taste, with salt and white pepper.
  6. Now put it all together: butter a casserole dish generously and flake the  fish, be careful in removing any skin and bones. Lay the fish in the casserole dish and pour about half of the parsley sauce on top (keep the rest as sauce when serving.)
  7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the spinach to the pan and blanch for a minute but only until the spinach has wilted. Drain well. Slice the hard-boiled eggs and lay on top of the fish, followed by the  spinach. Cover with the mashed potatoes.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together the ciabatta crumbs and the parmesan. Sprinkle the cheese breadcrumbs on top of the pie.Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown. Reheat the parsley sauce and serve the pie hot with the remaining parsley sauce poured over.

About Cooking At Zero Degrees

This is a blog (it also works on an ipad and now has a Facebook page) about what we eat at home. Starters, mains, sauces, side dishes, cocktails and links to local shops. It’s all here. Food is fun, it should be fun to make and fun to eat. For some people making a meal is a chore. If it is then don’t do it; but please, it’s better to eat something, anything, that you make at home from scratch, because prepared, packaged supermarket dinners and food have about as much flavour as the plastic or cardboard package they come in. Food cultivation and husbandry is not just a moral argument. Eggs that don’t come from battery hens do taste better, cattle properly reared have more flavour - and just think about it: at its most simple, if they’re not being pumped full of chemicals then you’re not being pumped full of chemicals. How good is that? If you can buy local, use your neighbourhood shops, you will miss them when they are gone. Most of all, have fun making a meal of it! Oh, and why at zero degrees? Because that’s where we live – in Greenwich, London.
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