Aug 6, 2009

Kay’s Fish Pie


As far as I know—and I could be dead wrong about this—a Fish Pie is traditionally a British dish. I think we just blatantly stole it from them. Like their Sheperd’s pie. And lots of other stuff we’ll never give back.

This is one of those family recipes that’s a food trip down memory lane to me. It’s also the kind of food I really like to share on here, because these type of recipes are my homage to my mother and grandmother. Not to mention this is the ultimate comfort food to me; hearty, filling but definitely light enough to be eaten all year round. 

You’ll probably be happy to know that, though there’s white sauce in my fish pie—sorry, but fish pie really needs white sauce—there’s not a drop of cream in it, making it not only a comforting meal that most kids take to naturally because of the mellow flavors, but not too unhealthy either.




Mashed potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds potatoes
roughly 2/3 cup of milk
little knob of butter
salt, pepper, nutmeg

Fish & Vegetable:

14 oz white fish
1 1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup vegetable (or fish) broth
1 1/2 cups green peas
1 small onion
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1 large carrot
1 lemon
flat-leaf parsley

White Sauce:

5 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 oz butter
1/2 a tsp salt
white pepper



First things first. The taters; my one true love. I’ve peeled, salted, boiled and mashed my potatoes. Season them with butter, a pinch of extra salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Yup, we add nutmeg to our mashed taters. Heck, we add nutmeg to our meatballs, too. 


I know most fish pie recipes call for fresh fish. Feel free to use that if you like, but I opted for frozen fish this time to show you this does not have to be a $25 casserole and still look and taste pretty darn good.


I usually keep a package of frozen white fish in my freezer—could be cod, pangasius or haddock—it’s just so easy to have around and cheaper than fresh fish. It was cod fish this time. I must admit, though, what really gives a fish pie a major boost is adding some salmon, about 5 oz or so.


Place the fish in a deep pan—I always use my Dutch oven for this—and pour in the milk and broth. You can use vegetable or fish broth for it, whatever rocks your boat. I personally lean towards vegetable broth.


I want to up the flavors a little and I do that by peeling a medium onion, cut it in half and stick 3 cloves in there. I know it seems unorthodox, but this is how my grandma did it. Believe me, it works!


Put the onion in with the fish, cloves side down, and season the liquid with 1/2 a tsp salt and one fairly large bay leaf. Bring it to a boil and simmer over low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes. Until the fish starts to flake.


In the mean time I’ve peeled and coarsely grated 1 decent sized carrot and I’ve chopped the other half of the onion.


Another frozen item: 1 1/2 cup pretty green peas. I absolutely prefer frozen peas over fresh ones. Sue me!


And I’ve chopped a big handful of flat-leaf parsley. I absolutely prefer fresh over dried parsley. This was about 4 tbsp parsley.


In the mean time the fish was done. Finito. So I transferred it to a plate.


Discard the onion and bay leaf and sieve the cooking liquid. We’ll use it to make the sauce with.


Let’s move on to the sauce! Melt 3 oz of butter and add 5 tbsp all-purpose flour. Cook the roux for a minute or two (over low heat) to allow the flour to lose its rawness. Then slowly add the sieved cooking liquid until you’ve reached a sauce consistency you like. I used up all the liquid this time.


Season the sauce with salt (1/2 tsp for me), white pepper and simmer for another 3 minutes. Just set it aside while we prepare the vegetables.


Tip: add a splash of white wine for a more adult type of fish pie.


Heat a tiny drop of oil and sautee the carrots and onions for about 5 minutes, until soft. Don’t let them brown, though.


Add the green peas and let it heat through for a few more minutes. Mine were still slightly frozen when I put them in, so I gave them a few extra minutes.


Grate and add the zest of half a lemon and squeeze in some lemon juice as well, about 1 or 2 tbsp. Also get the chopped parsley in there. Trust me when I say the lemon does amazing things to the pie! It doesn’t make it taste real lemony but it adds a freshness and zing that really works.


Transfer the vegetables to an oven dish, add the fish and carefully break it up with a spatula. Be gentle, though, don’t stir that poor fish like a maniac.


Pour the white sauce in there and mix it up gently.


I could just grab a spoon, eat it like this and die a happy woman.


Top it with the mashed potatoes. What I always do is use a fork to draw some stripes in the potatoes. Don’t ask me why, one of my many idiosyncrasies, I guess.


Top the mashed potatoes with a generous amount of cheese. Cheddar and Gouda both work really well for this, but I wouldn’t go for a very sharp (aged) cheese. It just doesn’t really add to the laid back flavors of the fish pie.


Bake the casserole at 350F (175C) for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown.


Fish Pie is your friend. Fish Pie is love. Fish Pie is …. well, you catch my drift, right? I just know you want to dig your fork in there!


Kay’s Recipe Card

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    1. 1

      Oh, this actually sounds very good to me. As usual, thanks for the detailed and lovely photos!

      Memoria on Aug 6, 2009 @ 12:34 pm Reply
    2. 2

      Fish, mashed potatoes and .. cheese on top!
      This is a winner! Thanks for this lovely recipe!

      And ofcourse, as always.. all illustrated with beautiful pictures. You’re so talented..

      Thanks for sharing!!!

      Richard on Aug 6, 2009 @ 12:50 pm Reply
    3. 3

      Nice but what, you don’t freshly grind your pepper? Tsk tsk. ;o)

      Karohemd on Aug 6, 2009 @ 12:53 pm Reply
    4. 4


      Strangely enough I only grind my black pepper, somehow I never grind white pepper.

      Kay on Aug 6, 2009 @ 12:56 pm Reply
    5. 5

      Now I know what we’re having for dinner Thanks, Kay!

      Michelle on Aug 6, 2009 @ 2:09 pm Reply
    6. 6

      Another great dish from the Kayotic Kitchen! I think my two grandbabies would love this. I’ll have them both with me next week, so I’ll try it out then.

      Lana on Aug 6, 2009 @ 2:18 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Yummmmm. I can’t wait to try this!

      Debby on Aug 6, 2009 @ 2:26 pm Reply
    8. 8

      This looks wonderful!!! Thank you :)

      Debbie on Aug 6, 2009 @ 2:29 pm Reply
    9. 9

      Oh this is beautiful! Sounds delish too, can’t wait to try it…

      Liz Brooks on Aug 6, 2009 @ 2:43 pm Reply
    10. 10

      The casserole looks fantastic. This looks like a nice way to please the kids and myself!

      Judy on Aug 6, 2009 @ 2:46 pm Reply
    11. 11

      This is so like my mom’s fish pie recipe and she is British. We tend to cheat and simply use mixed frozen veg instead of peas and carrot and onion.

      One interesting thing from this posting – we get a fish here caught off the Cape called kabeljou and we were always told it was a speciality etc, but your showing the package and calling it cod got me looking and apparently it is a different name for the same thing. And I thought we couldn’t get cod here! We usually use hake as our go to firm white fish.

      Louise on Aug 6, 2009 @ 6:21 pm Reply
    12. 12

      I just have to try this @ least one time, it sure looks mouth watering :)

      Arrisje on Aug 7, 2009 @ 1:20 am Reply
    13. 13

      This looks really good. I’ll have to try this for my husband and myself. My 16yr old son doesn’t like fish, except for tuna (noodle casserole and melts). I like that you shred the carrots because that is the only way I can get my husband to eat cooked carrots. If I slice them or even dice them, he will pick them out of whatever I make every time! The Irish make a fish and potato pie too, but this sounds really good to me. Can’t wait to try it, it look’s very comforting.

      Andilynn on Aug 7, 2009 @ 2:57 pm Reply
    14. 14


      As far as I know (and I could be wrong, so don’t pin me down on it), Kabeljou is African for Kabeljauw, which is cod fish.

      Kay on Aug 7, 2009 @ 3:05 pm Reply
    15. 15

      I’ve made a similar dish using catfish, a freshwater fish that is both farmed and caught wild. The fish I used was caught by my husband but I’ve seen farmed catfish in the store and it was fairly inexpensive. (Of course availability may depend of your geographical location!)

      Tracy on Aug 7, 2009 @ 10:08 pm Reply
    16. 16

      Fish Pie is definitely a traditional british dish :)
      Your version looks amazing, I’m not a fish eater but it looks mouthwatering.

      K.Bronsema on Aug 9, 2009 @ 2:09 am Reply
    17. 17

      Ik heb mijn mannen (echtgenoot en stiefzoon) al gek gemaakt met dit recept. Morgen, zondag, ga ik het maken. Moet nog wel wat ingredienten halen, maar ik kan niet wachten om hun gezichten te zien als ze de eerste hap nemen! Ik weet zeker dat dit weer een topper in huize Schaefer gaat worden!! Wordt vervolgd! Thanks Kay, you rock! :-)

      Ellen on Aug 9, 2009 @ 4:28 am Reply
    18. 18

      Thanks for this recipe. I already made it for my family and it was a HUGE hit, specially with the little two. They loved it, finished every bit on their plates and asked for seconds!

      Ella on Aug 9, 2009 @ 6:56 pm Reply
    19. 19

      It’s Sunday evening…We just had dinner..we all are so relax…because this recipe is as if an angel pie on your tongue (sorry, Dutch expression). It was a lot of work to make it but it was also so much fun. I felt as a witch (toverkol). :-) Thanks again for this wonderful recipe, Kay! We loved it!

      Ellen on Aug 10, 2009 @ 5:30 am Reply
    20. 20

      I made this recipe Saturday night….it was wonderful! My husband actually ate leftover fish pie for breakfast the next day! Thanks so much for the recipe Kay! Another winner!

      JoAnn on Aug 10, 2009 @ 9:07 pm Reply
    21. 21

      I am deathly allergic to fish and seafood. Can I make this using chicken instead? It all looks so good but I just cannot eat fish or seafood of any kind, even tuna. It sounds as if it would work with chicken.

      dick on Aug 11, 2009 @ 9:19 am Reply
    22. 22


      Sorry to hear about the allergy. I’m pretty sure this will work with shredded chicken as well, the flavors are mellow enough!

      Kay on Aug 11, 2009 @ 9:22 am Reply
    23. 23

      This looks delicious!! I can’t wait to try it!!

      Debbie in Memphis on Aug 12, 2009 @ 3:15 am Reply
    24. 24

      Beautifully baked. Golden, comforting and I bet it was tasty too :)

      Sean on Aug 25, 2009 @ 11:29 pm Reply
    25. 25

      I have never heard of fish pie, but this looks delicious. Bookmarking – I must try it.

      Hana on Aug 26, 2009 @ 8:08 am Reply

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