Let us guide you through an otherwise-complex dinner party staple that is bound to impress again and again…
Many of my friends don’t really like fish. Either that or they “haven’t really tried it”. When you’re hosting a dinner party with such people on your guest list, you only have a couple of options how to proceed. The first, probably most obviously, is don’t serve fish at all – find something all your guests can enjoy. But if you must serve fish, then either a Shellfish Chowder or a Fisherman’s Pie are your safest bets. Both dishes can have enough non-fish components to mask the flavours entirely. They’re good ways in which to introduce fish dishes to your previously meat-only friends and family.
We served the chowder a couple of years ago at one of our exhibition dinner parties and the recipe followed shortly after. This time, it’s the turn of our Fisherman’s Pie, based on recipes by Rosemary Shrager and Jennifer Paterson.
A warning for you. It can be quite time-consuming so go into this dish fully committed or not at all!
- 6 large potatoes
- 300g butter
- 75g flour
- 250g smoked haddock
- 250g salmon
- 400ml milk – preferably whole
- 100ml double cream
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 200g smoked salmon
- 200g baby spinach
- 100g prawns*
- 50g squid*
- 50g mussels or scallops*
- 6 anchovy fillets
- Dried parsley
- Salt and pepper (for seasoning)
*If available, buy one of the frozen seafood mix packs – this should have plenty for a fisherman’s pie. Just remember to defrost first!
Makes 6 servings
Total Preparation and Cooking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Start by pre-heating the oven at Gas Mark 4 or 180°C. Chop the salmon and smoked haddock into large chunks and place in a roasting dish with 50g of the butter. Pour the milk over the fish. Place the dish in the oven for 8-10 minutes to poach the fish.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish pieces and place in a bowl to one side. Keep the milk and butter, as this will be used to flavour the béchamel sauce in the next step.
- In a small pan, place 150g of the butter with half the flour. Let it melt for 1 minute but don’t let it brown or burn – keep stirring! After that, pour in the milk and butter you poached the fish in. Add the rest of the flour to thicken the sauce. Keep stirring until all lumps are gone. Then pour in the cream and add the mustard, pepper and, if required, salt.
- Let that cool for a little while, and in the meantime cook the spinach. Place it into a saucepan in batches with 50g of the butter and wilt for around a minute at a time. It will reduce and go a darker shade. Once all wilted, put the spinach at the bottom of the pie dish. This will serve as the first layer for your pie.
- Now roughly chop your smoked salmon and place on top of the spinach, followed by the regular salmon and smoked haddock pieces.
- Cook the prawns, mussels/scallops and squid for 5-6 minutes and place them in with the rest of the fish pie mixture. Pour on the béchamel sauce, and then place your the anchovies on top. A generous sprinkling of dried parsley will add to the flavours.
- Leave that to cool for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can make the topping. Wash, peel and chop 6 large potatoes and place in water. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes or until soft enough to mash. Using the remaining butter, mash the potatoes and spoon over the top of the fish pie mixture. You can be as artistic with the pattern as you like.
- Place back into the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the potato topping is golden brown and/or the mixture is piping hot. Serve immediately with either a glass of champagne or a pinot noir, plus some optional steamed seasonal vegetables. Really, there is enough in there to make for a good meal in and of itself.