Tag Archives: fish

Quick and Easy Fish Pie

Like most people who care about good food, I’m a vocal (and now digital!) advocate of keeping food simple and relying on the quality of the ingredients. Fish pie is one of those dishes that can easily be overcomplicated, and so be daunting to make. This version takes little preparation and will be at the table in under an hour.

Ingredients

half a swede, a couple of parsnips or a celeriac

half a head of cauliflower

some mild cheddar cheese

a knob of butter

2 fillets of smoked haddock (or any fish you fancy or need to use up)

2 handfuls of raw prawns (shellfish such as mussels or clams are good too)

300ml double cream

a good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley (if I don’t have parsley I use spinach or rocket)

a pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper

 

Boil the swede, parsnip or celeriac in salted water and steam the cauliflower until soft enough to mash (15-20 minutes). Steaming the cauliflower prevents it from making the mash watery. Mash the cooked vegetables (I use an electric hand blender), adding the butter, cheese, a grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the fish into bite sized pieces (don’t waste the skin!) and place in an oven dish.I make this recipe for two and use two individual oven-proof oval dishes. Scatter a the prawns over the fish and finish with the chopped parsley. Mix the fish, prawns and parsley a little then pour over the cream. Grate a dusting of nutmeg over the top.

Top with the slightly cooled mash, smooth and fork to create peaks that will brown in the oven. Dot some butter over the top of the mash. Put the dish or dishes in the centre of the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until the cream is bubbling and the mash has browned to your liking.

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Crispy Fish Skin

Primal humans ate as much of a beast as they could, cooking and processing food to make it easier to digest possibly even further back into our evolutionary history than we have traditionally thought. Some cultures still do, famously the Chinese. I have always been an experimental carnivore and relish scoffing new and exciting animals. I have often wandered around zoos contemplating the taste of one animal or another imagining I’m following in Darwin’s footsteps.

Preparing some smoked haddock for a fish pie this evening, I caught myself walking to the bin with their incredibly fragrant skins, skins with a good bit of flesh still attached. It occurred to me that I should freeze them for stock. An even better thought then popped into my head: ‘Fried, crispy fish skin’. Crispy fish skin is often seen on the menus of swanky restaurants, and for a good reason. As well as being delicious, it’s profitable due to the usual place fish skins end up. The bin.

I snapped the bin lid closed and in 10 minutes, with the help of some hot olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, transformed the skins into a fantastic cook’s treat.

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I cut the skins into squarish pieces of about 2 inches and put about half an inch of oil into a pan, heated it and dropped the skins in. They shrivelled up when they hit the oil, but relaxed out again after a few seconds. They fried for a minute or two in the oil, until golden, and then drained on a piece of kitchen paper and sprinkled with some sea salt flakes.

Potato crisps are one of my cheat foods. I’m not talking about the tasteless, uniformly beige things, laden with overpowering flavouring, but a good, earthy bag of thicker cut artisan crisps. The fish skin scratched the same itch I have for crisps and qualifies as primal food. They are like fishy pork scratchings. Crunch!

If you are trying to find me tomorrow, I’ll be at the fish market hunter-gathering in the bins.

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