The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.55
WINTER2017

A Scottish fish pie with a simpler English variation embedded in the Notes.

The addition of hard boiled eggs is characteristically British, the addition of oatmeal to the pastry characteristically Scottish. A pie for four.


For the filling:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 10 oz milk
  • about 1½ lb non-oily white fish (cod, haddock…. ) cut into chunks about an inch square
  • about ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens
  • heaped Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 chopped hard boiled eggsFish_and_Creel.jpg
  • salt

 

For the crust:

  • 4 oz flour
  • 2 oz quick oatmeal
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks
  • icewater to bind
  • a beaten egg
  • about ½ cup steel cut oats

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, whisk in the flour to form a paste and slowly whisk the milk into the roux.
  2. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn off the heat and add the fish, cayenne, chives, parsley and egg, then add a little salt.
  3. Dump the filling into a buttered pie dish and let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

  1. Make the pastry by mixing the flour and quick oats with the salt, then knead   the butter into the dry ingredients.
  2. Once the mixture assumes the consistency of coarse cornmeal flecked with oats, drizzle barely enough icewater into the mix to form a thick paste that barely adheres.

Assemble the pie:

  1. Roll out the pastry on a board filmed with flour, drape it over the filling and, trim the overhang and crimp the perimeter by pressing it with a fork at right angles to the rim.
  2. Paint the pastry with the beaten egg, scatter the steel cut oats across the disc and cut a hole on the center.
  3. Bake the pie until the crust turns pale gold, usually in about 25 minutes.

 

Notes:

-Take care not to overbake the pie or the fish will become… fishy.

-It would be considerably easier to make the pastry by pulsing the butter with the dry ingredients and then adding the water in pulses as well using a food processor at Steps 4 and 5. The drawback? You will lose the coarser consistency of the quick oats within the crust. Costs and benefits compete.

-The addition of mace to fish pies is not unknown. If you like, add ¼ teaspoon with the cayenne at Step 2.

-Smallish shrimp add bounce and, once again, are traditionally included in a number of British fish pie recipes. Substitute about ½ lb raw shelled shrimp for ½ lb of the fish.

-You can make a simpler, English version of the pie by topping it with your favorite recipe for mashed potato.