Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fantastic Traditional English Fish Pie

Recently, I signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programme with a farmer. Basically, this programme works such that a farmer offers a certain number of "shares' to the public and each share is typically a box of vegetables (farmers) or 6 lbs of fish (fishermen). This programme helps the farmers to sustain their business and motivate them to farm as they know they are ready customers to purchase their harvest. The customers, like me, will enjoy ultra fresh food and explore new ways of cooking different kind of food. 

To be more accurate, I signed up a fortnightly CSF (Community Supported Fishery) programme with local fishermen. This is my second collection (out of five). During the collections, I would go to Harvard square farmers' market to collect the fresh fish with my recycled shopping bag. I signed up for a 'whole fish' programme despite there is option for me to opt for 'fillet'. So I have to clean and scale the fish. I guessed it turned out to be such a problem for me. The kitchen was in a mess and the whole apartment smelled like the 'sea'. Luckily, the fish were extremely fresh and not much of a stench. 

It is really amazing that with this programme, I explore more ways of cooking different kinds of fish.The first week, I have got Dabs. I tried cooking it two ways, baked with potatoes and pan-fried. It was so delicious. This week I have got Pollock. Pollock is a white fish, considered strong flavoured. It is considered a cheaper version of haddock and cod.    

I have been thinking about making a traditional English fish pie for some time and finally I got white fish in my hands. I am going to make this pie a little more luxurious with prawns and vegetables. I referred to a few different recipes and also consulted my palate. Here's my version of Traditional English Fish Pie.


Recipe (4 servings)
Ingredients
3 large potatoes
500g fillet of pollock (salmon and cod is fine), cut into big chunks
6-8 large shrimps, shelled and deveined
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into small dices
1 stick of celery, cut into small dices 
2 eggs, hardboiled and quartered 
1 handful of parsley leaves, chopped
3tbsp of grated Cheddar cheese 
1 cup Fish stock 
1 cup of Fresh Milk 
1/2 cup of Heavy cream
1 Bay leaf
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 tbsp Butter
3 tbsp of plain flour
1/4 tsp Paprika
Salt and Pepper

Steps:
  1. Cut the potatoes into quarters. In a pot of boiling water and 1/2 tsp of salt, boil the potatoes until soft. You can use a fork to test it. Remove, drained and peel the skin. 
  2. Mashed the potatoes and add 2 tbsp of butter and 1/2 cup of milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put aside and keep it warm. 
  3. In a small pot of boiling water, blanch carrots and celery for 2 minutes. Drain and put aside.
  4. In a large pan, bring the fish stock and bay leaf to boil. When it starts boiling, bring the heat to low. 
  5. Add in fish chunks and prawns to poach for 5 minutes. Remove. 
  6. Keep the poaching liquid. Dispose the bay leaf. 
  7. In a saucepan, melt 2 tbsp of butter in low heat. Add in plain flour slowly. Stir evenly and prevent the roux from browning. Add enough flour to form a dough like substance that doesn't sticks to the sides of the pan. 
  8. Add in the poaching liquid into the roux slowly. Using a whisk, stir well. you will see the liquid thickening. Bring it to a light boil. 
  9. Add in milk and heavy cream. Simmer for 5 minutes. 
  10. Add in carrots, celery, parsley, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. 
  11. Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius. 
  12. In a baking tray or earthenware, lay the fish, prawns and eggs evenly. Pour the prepared cream sauce for it. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top.
  13. Spread the mashed potatoes over it.
  14. Placed in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crispy and golden on top.
  15. Serve piping hot with lovely green salad.      




You can always add other seafood into the dish. Scallops and clams will be great!