Thursday, 14 March 2013

fish pie on the rocks

... back in the day, my family were never very happy simply lying on a beach, sure we went down there with every intention of a soak in the sun but we always ended up at the epicentre of activity... if there was a giant sand-castle to be built, someone to cover in sand or more importantly a diy rock-pool to be dug, we were the family to instigate it... on many trips to the Cornish coast back in the 70's and 80's we would even go so far as to bring a plastic tarp with us that would become the lining for the rock-pool so that we and all the other kids on the beach could go catching crabs and little fish and actually have somewhere for the little critters to go other than a plastic bucket... dad would usually do the major part of the digging and lining then me and my brother would go off, bamboo poles and bright green nets on our shoulders and catch the fish... even mum joined in, her speciality being starfish... by the end of the day the tide would usually claim the pool back into the sea and we would wrap up the tarp and head for home... rock-pooling was my favourite thing in the world to do by the beach... i'm not sure but i imagine you'd probably get lynched for doing this today...

... i'm having so much fun with all these wonderful fishy recipes, there are just so many memories coming back to me and i'm loving the experience of cooking with such fine fresh produce, it's a privilege to have been asked by the good people at Fish is the Dish to encourage us all out there to eat more fish... developing recipes, discovering new cook books and flicking back through old scribbled notes... fish is just so versatile and easy to cook... and I know some of you aren't big fans... Mark, i'm thinking of you here... but sometimes those old school memories of stinky fish pie need to be pushed to one side and new ones created...

fish pie on the rocks
sometimes the thought of making mash potato just sends the shivers down my spine... I know it's really easy but it does have it's hazards and can be a little dull... I fancied something a little different atop my fish pie this week and as I lay in bed dreaming about toppings I began to visualise this roasted rocky potato landscape and I just knew I had to make it... and boy was I right... it added the perfect crunch to what can be a very 'soft' dish... fish on the rocks perfection!

for the pie
1 hake fillet
1 salmon fillet
1 haddock fillet
half a pint milk
500g cooked prawns
a handful of peas
1 kg bag of baby new potatoes - cut into teeny tiny cubes
olive oil
fresh flat-leaf parsley

for the white sauce
2 tablespoons flour
2oz butter
1 teaspoon english mustard powder
the milk from the fish made up to 1 pint with stock
a dash of white wine
a decent wedge of strong cheddar - finely grated

pre-heat the oven to 180C

place the cubed potatoes onto a baking sheet, slather in olive oil, rosemary and salt and pepper and roast for about 20mins or until just beginning to colour

meanwhile, in a large pan, gently heat the fish, except for the prawns, in the milk. Once the milk begins to bubble take it off the heat and let the fish cool in the milk.  Once cool, remove the fish and flake it into large chunks directly into your pie dish. Stir in the prawns and the frozen peas.  Use the milk to make up the stock for the white sauce.

next make the white sauce by melting a large nob of butter in a sauce pan.  once melted, take it off the heat and add two tablespoons of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it is smooth.  Place the pan back on a gentle heat and add a splash of the milk and stock mix, stirring all the time as it thickens... continue to add the stock and stir on and off the heat until the sauce thickens... there should be no lumps if you stir off the heat.  Once all the stock is gone add the mustard powder and a splash white wine and stir in, then let the sauce bubble away on a very gentle heat for five minutes or so that the flour cooks off... then add the grated cheese and stir in.

pour the white sauce over the fish and peas and then cover generously with the roasted potatoes

bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are glorious and golden

there are a few other lovely bloggers who are also cooking lots of divine fish dishes over the next six weeks, so please do go and visit Solange over at Pebble Soup, Karen over at Lavender and Lovage and Janice over at Farmersgirl Kitchen for some more yummy Fish is the Dish recipes...

eat and of course, enjoy!


  1. GREAT post, GREAT recipe and GREAT photos Dom! I will link up with you in my next post too......LOVING all of this fish! Karen xxx

  2. First, I love the story of your pool digging! What great memories of being a kid and being with family! Thanks for sharing :)
    Second, Oh my word that pie looks amazing! And all those yummy fish together... I'll take it!!

  3. Oh the memories! Fun times and food memories! Great fishy dinner, Dom! have you ever made a dish called star-gazey pie? I read about it in a couple children's books "The Mousehole Cat' and 'The Maggie B' favorite stories for my kids when they were sprouts ...

  4. The "only" problem is that I don't like fish...anyhow it looks great.
    Have a lovely afternoon

  5. I love your rocky topping, mash can be a bit glurpy and unappetising at times (we often leave the skin on the spuds and mash it lumpily).

    I bet this would work well for shepherd's/cottage pie for the same reasons. Will definitely do it this way next time.

  6. You had me at 'roasted rocky potato landscape'! Looks delicious and a welcome bit of crunch. Hope you are well.

  7. Oh Dom, the idea of roasties on top of a creamy fish pie is pure genius. I'll definitely have to give this one a go. :) x

  8. I like the rocky landscape of this seafood pie Dom. I also remember many lazy summer days at the beach. I even have photos on the beach at Cleethorpes collecting jellyfish and eating ice cream wafer cones and rock candy.

  9. That rocky topping is so creative. I looove a good fish pie, and I think it's so admirable to be spreading the word about eating fish.

  10. I saw this on facebook and just HAD to come over to read this. adore fish. probably can give up meat if I wanted to (don't quote me on that yet though) but I will really cry if I had to give up fish. I could have it everyday, much less for 6 weeks. I don't have it often here because it's pretty expensive and I'm a student but in sg, my mum would have fish EVERY day, just lightly steamed or maybe in soup.

    I love what you did to a classic fish pie! great idea!! I may even

  11. We had a fish pie recently, with traditional mash topping with grated cheese over it, and it was delicious but love this idea for cubed spuds instead!

  12. I love fish pie but I've never done it with this kind of topping before, great idea! I'm quite envious at your tales of rock pooling too.... I've never come across one at the beach but I guess that's because we would always go to Bournemouth which is generally really crowded!

  13. What a delicious looking fish dish. White sauce with cheddar is so delicious and rich. It's so funny that you should mention hake. I have just recently begun to go to a Portuguese fishmonger in the city were I grew up. I buy a whole hake fish for $25.00. We love it mild flavor and firm texture. I can't believe I have lived my whole life just eating salmon, haddock and cod. Hake is my new favorite.

  14. That is such a lovely story - and such an awesome pie! Very clever idea, as always. But not exactly beach weather you're having at the moment, is it? x

  15. What a great way of topping fish pie, that way you get some nice texture rather than everything being soft. Will have to share this with my fish eating family, they'd love it!

  16. Dom, this sounds delicious! I love fish and I know I'd love this dish! I made a yummy shrimp dish this week and I'm on a quest to eat more fish too! I also love how you've named your topping, very original!

    I also enjoyed your trip down memory lane, I come from a long line of ocean/beach lovers! When we were young, it was the beaches of New Hampshire & now it's Maine! I hope you get to visit some day, you'd love Maine in the summer!

  17. I enjoy a fish pie, of course, but they can lack texture. So I'm very impressed with your variation. I'm also impressed that you lie in bed dreaming of toppings - that's true dedication.

  18. Loving the name and it is certainly not a stinky school fish pie. Can't wait for the weather to cool so this can be popped in the oven. Crunchy potatoes......nice touch, great alternative to mash.

  19. We just made my first fish pie last night but we did a rosti on the top (nice one Delia!). I was put off by a trip to Lowestoft fish market as a kid and never ate it since. Mr LTT has coaxed me into fish though and actually I quite like it now and it's really good for you too :)

  20. Fish pie is awesome comfort food. I loved it as a kid, although I have to say, I think the best bits were the peas and hard boiled egg that my Mum always put in - as a kid I liked the flavour of the fish, but was rather squeamish about bones, so each mouthful of actual fish was eaten with a certain sense of trepidation! This version looks lovely - the new potato topping in particular. One to add to my 'if I ever am able to eat dairy again' wish list, since I don't think soya milk would do it any justice...

  21. Your fish pie looks absolutely delicious! I'm not the biggest mash potato fan, so I love the look of your potato topping :)

  22. This sounds like such a great way of livening up a fish pie with some extra texture. I'll be sure to try it soon.


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