The recipe for this pie was first shared with us by a customer the first Easter at our old Essendon location. As happens, it has been tweaked over the years. We’re delighted to share it with you this Easter.
Serves 3-4 depending on how hungry you are and how much cheese and chocolate you’ve already eaten.
Mashed potato topping
- 750g firm, waxy potatoes (such as Désirée or Royal Blue)
- 50gm Marcel Petite Comté – grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500ml fish stock
- 40ml dry Vermouth
- ½ medium white onion chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb cored and chopped (green tips reserved for béchamel sauce)
- 1 small carrot chopped
- 1 small stick celery chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic
- pinch saffron
FishNow is the time to make friends with a fishmonger. Also, we recommend Harris Smokehouse (photo credit for the picture of their great grandfather Richard Pinney, standing by the nets they used to hang across the Butley River, Suffolk, UK) for a great selection of smoked fish. You’re looking for 600-700gm seafood in total; feel free to mix it up as per your particular palate.
- 400gm firm white fish such as Rockling or Hapuka
- 100gm smoked Haddock or Cod (try a good deli/fishmonger)
- 100gm hot smoked ocean trout fillet
- 100gm raw prawns
Herby béchamel sauce
- 40gm unsalted butter
- 40gm plain flour
- 80ml full cream milk
- a handful of parsley/dill chopped finely (fennel tips can be also used here)
- 80ml cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 75gm spinach blanched and drained (can use frozen spinach defrosted and squeezed of excess moisture)
- 2 free-range eggs - hard-boiled
- 20gm panko crumbs
- 20gm G Cravero Parmigiano Reggiano – freshly grated
- Peel potatoes and cut in large dice, then boil in salted water for 8-10 minutes or until tender. While still warm, drain well and mash together with butter and seasonings. Stir in grated Comté and set aside.
- In a large pan place all your ingredients for the poaching broth and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Poach seafood for 2 - 3 minutes then set aside. (They’ll finish cooking in the oven later so you’re just getting them started).
- Strain the broth, discarding all the solids, and reduce it by half, skimming as required.
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
- For the herby béchamel sauce, melt the butter in medium size pan over low heat then add in flour and whisk together to make a smooth paste. Continue to stir for 2-3 minutes as you cook out the flour. Add a ladleful of broth at a time, whisking to incorporate smoothly.
Stir in the milk and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat, stir in your finely chopped herbs, cream then season with salt and pepper to taste. Expect a thick sauce.
- Butter your dish of choice (something between 5-10cm deep is good). Spoon a little sauce on the base then flake your reserved fish in, ensuring it’s nicely intermingled.
Pour enough béchamel over the fish to make sure it’s well-coated without drowning.
Lay slices of hard-boiled eggs across the top and dot with spinach (or other vegetables of choice.)
- If you’re feeling fancy pipe the mashed potato or just spoon it on top; whatever you decide, ensure a good coverage. You can create a fish scale effect with the rounded edge of a spoon if you want to up the ante. Combine the panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmigiano then sprinkle liberally across the mash topping.
- Bake at 180C for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Goes well with
- Fresh white wine, eg a bright Chardonnay or a vibrant SA Riesling – something with a bit of acid and texture
- Kolsch beer - crisp, clean finish but with more flavour than lager
- There may seem like a lot of steps but none are particularly complicated. Making the mash potato and the broth can be done simultaneously.
- You can leave out or substitute much of the ingredients as you need to. For example, eggs are actually optional if they don’t work for your audience. If you don’t have any vermouth, dry white wine works. Sour cream can sub in for regular cream. If you dislike dill, leave it out. Vegetable stock works if you can’t get your hands on fish
- Vegetables such as carrot, frozen peas, leeks would work in place of or in addition to spinach. Just ensure they’re cooked and drained to eliminate making your pie soggy.
- Easy to make gluten-free by using GF flour in the béchamel and leaving off the panko crumbs.
- Don’t feel you have to use all the béchamel. Any leftovers can be served alongside for those who like it saucy.
Photo: Harris Smokehouse