Fish Pie

Like most people, I always welcome fish pie as one of the most comforting of foods. This is rather a grandiose one and is splendid to eat on Good Friday after a day of fasting, or on Christmas Eve before midnight mass, or for that matter any time you fancy it.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/1 lb coley fillet
  • 450 g/1 lb smoked haddock filled
  • 6 scallops
  • 225 g/8 oz fresh peeled cooked prawns
  • 1-1.3 kg/2-3 lb fresh spinach
  • 115 g/4 oz butter plus extra for the top
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • grated nutmeg
  • 1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • pints milk
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 4 tsp anchovy essence
  • a big bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 115 g/4 oz Parmesan, freshly grated

Method

Put the coley and smoked haddock into a large pan and pour boiling water over just to cover. Simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Turn it all out into a clean sink and leave until the fish is cool enough to handle. Then remove skin and any bones. Flake the fish on to a plate and reserve.

Wash the spinach thoroughly and place in a saucepan – do not add any water. Cook gently until it collapses, then raise the heat and cook until done, about 3 minutes. Drain well, pressing the liquid out. Return the spinach to the saucepan with 55 g/2 oz butter and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Spread the spinach evenly on the bottom of a well-buttered oven dish large enough to take the rest of the ingredients.

Melt the remaining 55 g/2 oz of butter in a saucepan and cook the onion gently until translucent. Add the flour and stir round to make a roux. Have the milk heated to a simmer and add it little by little until you have a smooth béchamel sauce. Pop in the bayleaf and let it simmer for half an hour, stirring now and then.

Stir the anchovy essence and parsley into the sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the flaked fish and pour on to the spinach. Slice the whites of the scallops in half horizontally and distribute over the fish, interspersed with their corals. Scatter the prawns over the top, sprinkle with the Parmesan and dot with a little extra butter. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for 20-30 minutes until heated through and browned on the top. Serve with a purée of potato and a tomato salad.

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