Recipe: Proper Fish Pies

Apr 23, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Main Course Recipes, Recipes
Proper Fish Pie with Egg

Proper Fish Pie with Egg

I’ve been watching one of my favorite cooking shows of all time recently, Two Fat Ladies.  It was a masterful British show from the 90′s that is an absolute riot.  Not only are they hilarious, but they cook some tasty looking treats.  They use anchovies in nearly everything, and fill their sentence structure with constant British slang and catch phrases.  Their methods and banter were the inspiration for this recipe.

You may think that a savory fish pie sounds a bit off, but it is surprisingly delicious.  I didn’t have any canned anchovies on hand, so I used their milder cousin, the sardine, instead.  You could use either, as I’m confident both would be delicious.  But if you’re more into milder tasting fish, stick with the sardines.  They blend perfectly with the spinach, shallot, capers, and herbs.  An extra buttery crispy crust holds it all together, and a cracked egg on top brings the whole thing together.  I challenge you to make this dish and to send me a comment if you liked it or not.  The Bald Gourmet loved it.

What You Will Need to Make Proper Fish Pies

4 cups spinach

1 large shallot, chopped (roughly 1/4 cup)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large tomato, sliced, or some canned tomatoes which have been thoroughly drained

Capers, roughly 4 teaspoons

Fresh tarragon, chopped, roughly 4 teaspoons

Chives, chopped, roughly 1 tablespoon

4 eggs

1 can sardines packed in oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded Parmesan (or other hard cheese) for garnish

Pastry dough (2 cups flour, 1 cup cold butter, 1/2 cup cold milk, 2 large pinches of salt)

How to Make Proper Fish Pies

Start by making your pastry dough.  Follow the steps outlined in How to Make Perfect Pie Crust, using cold milk instead of the water.  The milk adds an extra savory element and makes for a crispier crust.

Once your dough is made and chilling in the refrigerator, move on to the fillings.

Start by heating the olive oil in a sauté pan.  Add the shallots and cook over medium-high heat until starting to brown.  Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, cover, and remove from heat.  Keep the spinach covered as you prep your other ingredients and wait for the pastry dough to finish chilling.  The idea here is that the spinach will cook from the residual heat, and will then cool as you wait for the dough.

Cook Spinach with Shallot

Cook Spinach with Shallot

Cooked Spinach and Shallot

Cooked Spinach and Shallot

Open your sardines/anchovies and drain the oil.  If not filleted, gently lift the sardines from the tin, split down the gut with a fork or knife, and gently open them up to get two little fillets.  Remove the backbone and discard.  Set sardines aside on a plate.

Split Sardines into Fillets

Split Sardines into Fillets

Chop your herbs and set aside.  Slice your tomatoes (or drain them if using canned), and set aside.

Now that your pastry dough is chilled, remove from refrigerator, dust a work surface with flour, split dough into fourths, and roll out.  Each crust should be about 8-10 inches in diameter and about 1/8th inch thick.  Place two rolled out crusts on a sheet pan which has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, repeating on a second sheet pan.

How to Assemble Proper British Fish Pies

Now you’re ready for the fillings.  Place 1/4 of the spinach into the middle of each pastry crust, flattening into a center circle.  Top the spinach with a tomato slice (or small handful of drained canned tomatoes).  Spoon a teaspoon of capers over the fillets on each pie.  Then add two sardines fillets (one whole fish) to each pie, then top each with a teaspoon of the tarragon.

Fish Pie Fillings on Crust

Fish Pie Fillings on Crust

 

Free Form Savory Fish Pies Galette Style

Now for the tricky part.  You need to top each pile of fillings with a cracked whole egg.  You could just whisk the eggs up, but the presentation of a whole egg yolk in the center of the pie is striking and well worth the effort.  I found that if you just crack the egg on the fillings at this point, it will just run all over the place and make an awful mess when you go to fold up the crust.  I found the most successful method was to fold up the crust loosely (fold the crust over itself every inch or so, making uniform folds all around the pie.  I detail this process fairly well in Elderberry Crostata with Lemon), gently unfold it a bit, and then cracking the egg in the center.  You can then season the egg with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a 1/4 of the chives, and then press the folds down more firmly.  However you do it, just try to keep the egg white inside the pie without breaking the yolk.  But if you do break the yolk, bake it anyway.  It’s still just as delicious.

Proper Fish Pie Wrapped and Topped with Egg

Proper Fish Pie Wrapped and Topped with Egg

 

Bake Fish Pies in a Convection Oven

Brush the pie crusts with an egg wash or some milk so that they get a nice sheen on them as they bake.  This is optional though, and I didn’t do it on the ones photographed in this post.

Bake the pies in a convection oven at 375° for 20 minutes.  If you don’t have a convection oven, bake at 400° for about 30 minutes, or until the crusts are baked through (you’ll need to rotate your pans half way through without a convection so that they cook evenly).

Proper Fish Pie Baking in Oven

Proper Fish Pie Baking in Oven

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each pie while hot.

Serve hot for dinner/lunch, or cold for a picnic treasure.

 

Proper Fish Pie with Egg

Proper Fish Pie with Egg

Recipe by Jothan Yeager, 4/2012

 

The Bald Gourmet creates a British inspired Proper Fish Pie recipe.

 

Recipe: Proper Fish Pies
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

You may think that a savory fish pie sounds a bit off, but it is surprisingly delicious. The sardines blend perfectly with the spinach, shallot, capers, and herbs. An extra buttery crispy crust holds it all together, and a cracked egg on top brings the whole thing together.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Servings: 4 small pies

Ingredients
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (roughly ¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large tomato, sliced, or some canned tomatoes which have been thoroughly drained
  • Capers, roughly 4 teaspoons
  • Fresh tarragon, chopped, roughly 4 teaspoons
  • Chives, chopped, roughly 1 tablespoon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can sardines packed in oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded Parmesan (or other hard cheese) for garnish
  • Pastry dough (2 cups flour, 1 cup cold butter, ½ cup cold milk, 2 large pinches of salt)

Instructions
  1. Start by making your pastry dough. Follow the steps outlined in
  2. How to Make Perfect Pie Crust, using cold milk instead of the water. The milk adds an extra savory element and makes for a crispier crust.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, making the fillings as it chills.
  4. Start by heating the olive oil in a sauté pan, and add the shallots and cook over medium-high heat until starting to brown.
  5. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, cover, and remove from heat. Keep the spinach covered as you prep your other ingredients and wait for the pastry dough to finish chilling. The idea here is that the spinach will cook from the residual heat, and will then cool as you wait for the dough.
  6. Open your sardines and drain the oil. If not filleted, gently lift the sardines from the tin, split down the gut with a fork or knife, and gently open them up to get two little fillets. Remove the backbone and discard. Set sardines aside on a plate.
  7. Chop your herbs and set aside.
  8. Slice your tomatoes (or drain them if using canned), and set aside.
  9. Now that your pastry dough is chilled, remove from refrigerator, dust a work surface with flour, split dough into fourths, and roll out. Each crust should be about 8-10 inches in diameter and about ⅛th inch thick.
  10. Place two rolled out crusts on a sheet pan which has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, repeating on a second sheet pan.
  11. Now you’re ready for the fillings. Place ¼ of the spinach into the middle of each pastry crust, flattening into a center circle. Top the spinach with a tomato slice (or small handful of drained canned tomatoes). Spoon a teaspoon of capers over the fillets on each pie. Then add two sardines fillets (one whole fish) to each pie, then top each with a teaspoon of the tarragon.
  12. Now for the tricky part. You need to top each pile of fillings with a cracked whole egg. You could just whisk the eggs up, but the presentation of a whole egg yolk in the center of the pie is striking and well worth the effort. I found that if you just crack the egg on the fillings at this point, it will just run all over the place and make an awful mess when you go to fold up the crust. I found the most successful method was to fold up the crust loosely (fold the crust over itself every inch or so, making uniform folds all around the pie), gently unfold it a bit, and then crack the egg in the center. You can then season the egg with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a ¼ of the chives, and then press the folds down more firmly. However you do it, just try to keep the egg white inside the pie without breaking the yolk. But if you do break the yolk, bake it anyway. It’s still just as delicious.
  13. Brush the pie crusts with an egg wash or some milk so that they get a nice sheen on them as they bake. This is optional.
  14. Bake the pies in a convection oven at 375° for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a convection oven, bake at 400° for about 30 minutes, or until the crusts are baked through (you’ll need to rotate your pans half way through without a convection so that they cook evenly).
  15. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each pie while hot.
  16. Serve hot for dinner/lunch, or cold for a picnic treasure.

1 Comment + Add Comment

  • [...] Proper Fish Pie A very different take on the fish pie from a fellow food blogger, the final assembly of the pastry is a little tricky flavour wise it’s a winner. Proper Fish Pie recipe > > [...]

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I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.