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Fish pie is a pub classic here in the UK. This version is a slight twist on the usual with a delicious (and easy) crispy, cheesy crushed potato topping.
What’s fish pie, anyway?
Go to any pub in the UK and there’s a good chance you’ll find a fish pie on the menu.
And I don’t mean pastry filled with fish. I’d say a classic British fish pie is more like the fish equivalent of a cottage or shepherd’s pie. Think a creamy white sauce with big chunks of fish in it, and possibly a few veggies, all topped with mashed potatoes, plus cheese if you like.
It’s seriously scrummy, and perfect crowd pleasing and healthy comfort food.
A twist on the classic
My main inspiration for this was a recipe from Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect Step-by-step.
What particular drew my attention to her fish pie recipe was the crispy small potato top she chose over a traditional mashed potato one.
Mmmm… just look at that crispy, cheesy crushed potato topping!!
How do you make fish pie?
A traditional fish pie is actually really easy to make. All you do is make a white sauce, stir in your choice of fish, then pour into a dish. Top with mashed potato and bake.
This easy version is no different:
Step 1: Fry a leek. Make a white sauce in the same pan. Add yummy flavours.
Step 2: Add fish to the sauce. Pour into a baking dish.
Step 3: Top sauce and fish with spinach (for extra nutrition!).
Step 4: Crush boiled potatoes and spread over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Mmmm.
Step 5: Bake!
You see – super easy and tasty. As you can see I decided to make my fish pie even easier by adding a crispy cheesy potato topping instead of the traditional mashed potatoes.
What kind of fish to use
Fish pies can include any kind of fish: white fish (any you like), salmon, canned fish (tuna or salmon?), smoked fish, prawns/shrimp if you like.
It’s true that fish can be expensive. But on the other hand a little goes quite a long way, as this pie is quite big, serving at least 6.
Also, you can make it a bit more economical by replacing a bit of the fish with some hard-boiled eggs. It might sound weird, but trust me, it works really well.
If you decided to add prawns, you can add them uncooked because they cook very quickly. For extra ‘oomph’ add a bit of smoked fish. Delicious!
How to serve this meal
I usually serve this with a simple salad or some vegetables – just whatever vegetables I happen to have.
More easy fish dinners
- Liking the fishy vibe in this post? This lemon butter salmon with potatoes and asparagus is another popular recipe on the blog. If asparagus is out of season, just substitute with broccoli!
- Want even more fish recipes? You have to try this Greek baked fish!
- This easy tuna salad is a great quick and easy dinner for when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. We make this again and again and it never disappoints!
- Crispy salmon fish cakes (an easy and delicious pantry meal!)
- This jerk salmon with yogurt potatoes is the wild card recipe – a little bit different, but a really delicious way to serve salmon, especially in the summer.
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Crispy fish pie
Equipment (affiliate links)
For the pie filling
- ½ stick butter
- 1 leek washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 2½ cups warm milk
- ¼ cup grated cheese
- small bunch fresh parsley chopped
- 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill optional
- grated rind ½ a lemon
- 1 heaped teaspoon mustard
- salt and pepper
- 1¾ pounds fish of your choice e.g. white fish fillet, salmon, smoked fish, raw prawns, skinned if necessary and chopped into large chunks
- 7 ounces fresh spinach
For the crispy potato topping
- 2¼ small potatoes scrubbed (you can leave the skins on)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- handful of parmesan cheese grated
- sprinkle of paprika optional
- salt and pepper
- salad or vegetables
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the leek for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two, then remove from the heat and very slowly add the warm milk, stirring all the time. Return to the heat and stir until thickened and smooth (a good few minutes). Add the cheese, parsley, dill (if using), lemon rind, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the raw fish to the sauce and stir, then remove from the heat and pour into a medium baking dish (about 10 by 7 inches or similar).
- Put the spinach in a colander and pour a kettle of boiling water over it to wilt it. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible by squeezing with the back of a spoon. Scatter over the fish and sauce filling.
- Now while the filling cools a little, preheat the oven to 180C / 350F, and make the topping.
- Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, then drain and return to the pan. Crush lightly with a fork and stir in half the olive oil and the parmesan cheese.
- Spread the topping evenly over the cooled filling, then drizzle over the rest of the olive oil, the cheese and paprika (if using). Grind over a little salt and pepper.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes browned and crisp. Serve with a salad or vegetables of your choice.