Comforting Creamy Parsley Fish Pie

Today we started day fifteen of what is now at least a thirty-five day lock down.  I want to be sure of my facts…. Although the prospect of having to stay at home, is less than thrilling, I do think that looking at the evidence, it’s the right thing to do.  I will write more about why, and what I think about it, in time.

When our enforced stay at home was mooted, I began thinking about inexpensive, relatively easy meals to cook.  Covid Comfort food.  Food that can be made (and served) with frozen ingredients and which are relatively easy to make.  Notice I didn’t say quick.  Flavourful food, in my opinion is rarely quick – it takes time for flavours to develop.  They are also meals that can be frozen and, I admit, I was also thinking about people I know, who might need a square meal and don’t have the means to cook this type of food.

A saucy affair

This creamy fish pie continues the somewhat saucy theme of a couple of days ago:  it’s a Bechamel sauce that pulls it all together.  This was a meal that rarely appeared on our dinner table when I was a child. My father disliked fish and loathed parsely sauce.  The former, a function of his wartime childhood.  The latter, I now realise, was because he wasn’t fond of warm, milky things.

I love white sauce and one of my favourite winter meals is fish with peas and parsely sauce.

Pan fried fish with herbs, parsley sauce and peas.

One dish fish pie

This creamy fish pie doesn’t include the peas but combines the fish with the parsley sauce topped with creamy mash and baked in the oven to make a pot pie.

The recipe, which you can download here, is for as many as eight people, but is easily adjusted.

I did say it wasn’t difficult.  What I will say is that it takes a lot of dishes and must be done in stages.  Make it ahead of time and/or freeze it for another time.

First, poach the seasoned hake, cod or any white fish in milk.  Like for any bechamel sauce, enhance flavour by adding a bay leaf, peppercorns, a clove of garlic and chunks of a carrot.  When the fish is cooked, drain off the liquid and set aside.  Flake the fish and discard bones and skin.

While the fish is cooking, prepare the potatoes for the topping.  I like my mash rustic. I like the look and flavour of the bits of skin, so I don’t peel the potatoes.

Using the reserved poaching liquid, make a bechamel sauce and then add a bunch (and I mean a bunch) of finely chopped parsley.  I like a lot of parsley – and if you think you’re short of leaves, chop the stems and add them, too.

Once you have the three components ready, either combine the fish with the sauce, or place the fish into an oven proof dish and pour the sauce over it.  Finally, top with the mash.

At this point, the pie can be refrigerated or frozen.  To reheat, dot the top with butter and bake in a moderate oven until browned and bubbling.

Individual portions

I do make individual portions:  it freezes well.  Potatoes, however, need a little TLC:  make sure that the pie is properly heated through and brown on top so that the potato is not watery.

Add a little decadence

If you have some frozen seafood – shrimp and mussels – in the deep freeze, add a little luxury to this simple supper.  Do this either at the end of the poaching – perhaps with a little white wine – or when you assemble the pie to bake.

Serve with seasonal vegetables.  Or peas.  For me, it’s always peas.  With mint from the garden.

The flavours of warmth and comfort.   On one plate.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script

  • I’m participating in blogpal @tracyork’s April challenge of sharing a post every day during April – on the Hive blockchain. I succeeded last year – on Steemit from which the new blockchain “hived off”… and… it’s fortunate that today I had something to get off my chest!  And…
  • It seems a good way to constructively use the time during a compulsory lock down, right? For more about this initiative, please check out Traci’s post.

  • If you’d also like to both join the challenge and post from the WordPress platform to the Hive blockchain, sign up here.