Main Dishes

Favourite Fish Pie

October 24, 2011

When I have foreign friends over for supper, I always want to show them what’s best about Ireland. We have such amazing natural produce that it’s very easy to create a tasty dish out of just a few ingredients. This simple fish pie really shows off the wonderful food we have readily available in Ireland.

Some people are often surprised to hear that I don’t eat meat. Living on such a beautiful island makes being a pescitarian very easy. Fish in Ireland is relatively cheap, plentiful, and varied. One of the benefits of being such a small island is that we are never far from the sea, meaning that our fish is always fantastically fresh. Irish dairy to me  is second to none. Our creamy milk and scrumptious butter is always the thing I miss most whenever I travel abroad. For me, Irish cheese is our hidden gold. Irish cows, sheep, and goats graze on the greenest pastures and enjoy the cleanest air. The milk they give in return is pure and full of flavour. Irish cheese makers use this fantastic resource to produce the nuttiest, tastiest cheese imaginable.  Humble Irish vegetables like potatoes and leeks are for me the most flavoursome Winter vegetables. From these simple ingredients, I make a mean fish pie. I often make it when entertaining friends because I can prepare it in advance and spend more time with my friends, catching up. This dish serves 4-6 people.

Here’s how:

Layer 1 – Leek and Shallots
 – 25g of Kerrygold butter
 – splash of oil
 – 1 medium leek, washed, dried and finely chopped
 – 4 shallots, peeled and sliced finely

Layer 2 – Crushed peas
 – 150g of garden peas (fresh/frozen)
 – 25g of Kerrygold butter
 – Irish Atlantic sea salt and pepper to taste

Layer 3 – Fish layer
 – 200g of Salmon
 – 300g of Hake
 – 200 g of naturally smoked Haddock
 – 200ml of milk
 – 1 bay leaf
 – sprinkle of Irish Atlantic sea salt
 – freshly cracked black peppercorns

Layer 4 – White sauce
 – 75g of butter
 – 50g of flour
 – 400mls of milk
 – 200mls of milk (reserved from the cooked fish)
 – pinch of grated nutmeg
 – Irish Atlantic sea salt and pepper to taste
 – 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Layer 5 – Potato
 – 4 large potatoes
 – 50g of Kerrygold butter
 – 25ml of milk
 – 30g of grated Coolea cheese

 – 2 crab claws (optional)
 – sprig of parsley

Begin by making the base layer. Melt the butter and oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the washed, chopped leeks and sliced shallots. Sauté for about ten minutes on a low to medium heat. You don’t want them to brown, you just want them to soften enough to become translucent and release all the sweetness. Once soft and tender, take off the heat and spread this thin layer of leek and shallot on the base of the casserole dish you are using for the fish pie. I used 4 small casserole dishes that hold about 300mls each. A large family size casserole dish would also work perfectly well.

Next, place the peas in water, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes, until tender. Drain and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Crush using a masher, or place in the food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Carefully spoon the crushed pea mixture over the base layer of leek and shallot.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Now is a good time to put the potatoes on to boil so they’ll be ready when you need them later on. Place the fish in a large baking dish. Cover with 200ml of milk, along with the bay leaf, salt, and pepper. As soon as the oven has reached180 degrees Celsius, cook the fish in the oven for 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish). You will know it is done, when the flesh comes away easily from the skin. Once the fish has cooked remove and place on a plate. Discard the bay leaf and reserve the cooking liquid for the white sauce.

For the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. You want to cook out the flour, but you don’t want to let it get brown. Slowly add the milk (including the  reserved milk from cooking the fish) making sure the liquid is all well mixed in before adding the next glug of milk. Keep adding the rest of the milk until the white sauce thickens and has a creamy consistency. Now sample it and add salt and pepper to taste. Finally add the chopped parsley and take off the heat.

Now the potatoes should be cooked. Peel and mash or rice the potatoes, I always use a potato ricer as I find it gives a really smooth texture, but an old fashioned masher works well too. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the milk. Heat until just warmed through. Add the mashed potato to the butter and milk. Mix well and then add the grated cheese. Take off the heat and leave covered with the saucepan lid.

Now that the fish has cooled, remove the skin and all the bones. It’s a pretty tedious job, but it’s worth it, as you don’t want your guests to choke! Break the fish into chunky bite size piece and arrange over the crushed pea layer. Mix up the different fish pieces so that each serving will give you a different selection of fish. Pour the white sauce over the fish.

For the final layer, you can either pipe the mashed potato with a piping bag or simply spoon it on. If you do spoon it on, it’s a good idea to drag a fork over the potato to give an uneven surface, as this will ensure a crispy topping. For that extra bit of decoration and decadence, I placed two ready-cooked crab claws into the centre of the potato.

Finally place the pie in the pre heated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with a simple green salad, some wedges of lemon and garnish with a sprig of fresh Irish parsley.


  • Reply Aoife Mc October 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Yum! Looks fabulous. And a lovely meal to share with visitors from afar. Good work, Vicky!

    • Reply Vicky October 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

      Thanks Aoife, I should have mentioned somwhere in the post that it’s for the Salon du Blog comp. I probably sound a bit bonkers 🙂

  • Reply Nessa Robins October 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    That pie looks so lovely. I love all the different layers! Best of luck with the competition 🙂

    • Reply Vicky October 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks so much Neasa, there’s some great competition, I just looked at them all and drooled 🙂

  • Reply Caroline O'Sullivan October 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Looks fantabulous!

    • Reply Vicky October 27, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Thanks Caroline 🙂 It’s my favourite foolproof dinner party dish!

  • Reply Irish Food Bloggers Association | Blog | Salon du Blog competition entries October 27, 2011 at 11:16 am

    […] Stasty: Favourite Fish Pie […]

  • Reply Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen October 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    When I order fish pie in a restaurant, I always hope it will come out of the kitchen looking as good as this one. It’s never happened yet. Please tell me you are opening a restaurant soon…?

    • Reply Vicky October 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks Hester! I don’t think I’ll be opening up the restaurant any time soon. 🙂 Your hake looked sublime. Shame we’re not bringing the fish to France.

  • Reply Rory Keane November 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Can this dish be successfully frozen etc.

    • Reply Vicky November 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      Hi Rory, yes it can be frozen. Just make sure it is completely cool before putting it in the freezer. Then put it in a tubberware or a dish that you can seal. Once you are ready to eat it, defrost it in the fridge overnight and then pop it in the oven.

  • Reply Mark March 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Made this last night, fantastic recipe tasted great!! Canadian butter is not as good as the Irish Kerrygold but with the amount of water here makes for getting access to great fish for the pie!

  • Reply stastycook March 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    You mean to say you can’t get Kerrygold in Canada….that’s outrageous! 🙂

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