I am not a fan of fish.
I have been told many many times that it is good for me. But it’s not enough. The scales, the stench – it takes a really good cook to whip up a swimmer that appears edible in my eyes. But tonight: it was done.
But not the creamy buttery goodness that you imagine, for lactose-intolerance has somewhat hindered my ability to ‘eat anything’. (Not that I did before – I’ve been a fussy little so-and-so since my very first breath.) This fish pie was created with me in mind – not too fishy, light, creamy without the cream. Flavours – oh those flavours. Peppery, salty and smooth.
The Dairy Free Fish Pie
- Create a vegetable stock – whether by boiling down veg over the stove and filling your home with that Sunday smell, or by whipping a cube out of the Oxo box – put it in a frying pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add a couple of bay leaves and a small handful of peppercorns into the mix as it bubbles away.
- The Fish: Always try to use a smoked fish in this kind of pie – it gives a kick without being overwhelming or pathetic. Also use a whitefish. For this we used Smoked Haddock and Whiting. These are actually best used from frozen – you can get fresh fish and then freeze it – I don’t mean straight from the Iceland packet you so carefully bury under your home baked goods. When put into the simmering pan they will gently cook, releasing the defrosting and fishy juices into the stock to create…wait for it: A FISH STOCK. So throw the fish in, cover in tin-foil and leave until the fish is happily cooking away – not fully but also not frozen – test with a knife to see how easily it starts to flake. If it needs gentle pulling then you are set to go.
- Remove the fish onto a chopping board and strain the peppercorns and herbs out of the stock, saving the liquid in a jug for a later date. Gently pick apart the fish into flaky chunks – not too large but also reasonably bite-sized. Add these and any veg you like – sweet corn, peas, carrots, you name it – into a bowl.
- Parsley Sauce. Now usually this would be done with butter, milk, cream, or something else dairy-related which would make me sick for the next week. Instead we create a Roux. Chop onions and chuck them into a pan with some olive oil, frying till they soften. Add around 2 tablespoons of Gluten-Free Flour and stir. Slowly pour the remaining vegetable/fish stock into the pan, stirring till it thickens up into a creamy juicy creamy thing.
- Throw in a handful of finely chopped parsley and stir for a few minutes before pouring happily over the flaky fish and veg.
|It doesn't look particularly nice. It does taste it though.|
- Next step: Mash. Mashed potatoes – nothing better than a good plate of mash. But with no butter? No Milk? Simples. Olive Oil, pepper, salt, and a lot of season to taste. Boil the potatoes till they are soft, drain and mash. Generously season with pepper and salt, pour a tablespoon of Olive Oil in and mash together. Taste – salt and pepper are up to you. It depends on personal taste – I am all in on the seasoning. Nothing like a really peppery mash for a peppery fish pie. Salt evens it out a little, not too much because – well, it’s pretty bad. But a little will take a dish from dull to perfect in a tiny pinch. The oil is important because it will make the mash far less dry and starchy, more creamed, but still maintain the potato texture. This is actually a great way of playing on healthier versions of mash – try it! If you fancy it throw in a few chopped chives for another burst, gotta love the chivey-mash.
- Right – everything is prepared. All is left to do is layer and cook. The Best way to lay mash onto a sauce is in blobs – that way the sauce doesn’t creep up the side and over the top; the heat stays inside and the pie is prettified. Run a fork over to lighten the top and put in the oven on around Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes, or until the mash is crispy brown on top!