06 April 2012

Good Friday: Seafood Pie

It seems as if everyone I know who's keeping Good Friday is having a fish fry today. Don't get me wrong, I love a good fish fry (tempura, beer batter, heavily spiced and dry fried--it's all good), but I just didn't want to go through "all that" ... not that it's arduous--if you're looking for a good deep fried fish recipe, here's my catfish fingers recipe.

After an oddly warm winter, we're back to seasonal temps--cool nights and just-this-side-of-warm days--and I want something a bit more hearty and soul-warming than battered or crumb-coated fish.

Work took me to New England for a few days last month--it's a gorgeous area, blessed with a long shoreline. Being landlocked at home, being an hour from the Atlantic meant sampling amazingly fresh seafood. And sample I did: crabcakes, calamari, lazyman's lobster, lobster rolls, baked oysters, seared tuna. All were delicious, but on my last night in Nashua, NH, my colleague and I had supper at Surf Restaurant, where I had the fisherman's platter: whitefish, scallops and shrimp with potatoes and veggies in a butter-white wine sauce, under a cracker crumb crust. One word describes that dish: succulent.

That dish inspired today's Good Friday supper of a seafood pie. Unlike other seafood pies, I didn't want a heavy white sauce binding together filling--I usually find them too rich, so I played with a yoghurt-olive oil bechamel I use for my moussaka. I also did away with the mashed potato topping (apologies to purists)--but I wanted this to be relatively easy and fuss-free, so I simply cubed the potatoes and mixed them with the fish filling.

Don't be put off by the seemingly lengthy ingredients list-- a good number of ingredients are for the poaching liquid, and although I could have simply indicated 250g (0.5lb) of mixed seafood, I gave you the breakdown I used for tonight's meal.

Unlike many traditional pies, this version has a slight tang, thanks to the sour cream and the dijon mustard. I like the lighter sauce, as it doesn't battle against the fish and seafood--if you'd rather go a more traditional route, make a standard bechamel sauce (see notes). The sour cream sauce is quite loose when the pie comes out of the oven--simply spoon it into your bowl. Keep the cracker crumbs--they add a nice textural contrast against the softness of the filling.

Seafood Pie
Serves 4-6

250ml (1c) clam juice or fish stock (see note)
125ml (0.5c) white wine
1 bay leaf
a few parsley stems
a few dill stems
a few celery leaves
6 lightly crushed black peppercorns
250g (8oz) firm white fleshed fish, such as cod, haddock, pollock or sole (see notes)
150g (5oz) boiling potatoes, cubed into 1.25cm (0.5") pieces
2dspn (20ml/4tsp) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely sliced
2dspn (20ml/4tsp) all purpose flour
125ml (0.5c) milk
125ml (0.5c) sour cream
1Tbsp (15ml) dijon mustard
1/8tsp dried tarragon
2-3Tbsp (30-45ml) minced parsley
100g (3oz) smoked fish, such as trout or haddock, broken into bite-sized pieces (optional)
125g (4oz) scallops (I used bay scallops)
125g (4oz) shrimp
90g (0.75c) frozen peas
a few handfuls of cracker crumbs

Parboil the potato pieces in salted water. While they are cooking, poach the fish by bringing to a boil the the clam juice, wine, bay leaf, stalks, celery leaves and peppercorns (if you have fish skins/bones, and shrimp shells, add them as well). Turn the hob down to a simmer, add the cod and poach for five minutes. Remove the fish from the broth. Strain out the leaves and whatnots from the broth. Reduce the liquid to 125ml (0.5c). Pour into a measuring jug and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Sweat the onions and celery in the oil. Stir in the flour and cook until biscuit-coloured. Whisk in the milk and sour cream for a few minutes, until thick. Add in the reduced poaching broth and mustard. Continue whisking for a few minutes. Stir in the parsley and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in the parboiled potatoes, smoked fish, scallops, shrimp and peas. Fold in the poached fish, keeping care to keep bite-sized chunks.

Pour into a baking dish. Strew the crumbs over top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Turn on the grill (broiler) and brown the crumbs for about 1-2 minutes.

  • Truth be told, I used one 236ml bottle of clam juice (why it's such an odd volume, I have no clue).
  • This is a pretty adaptable recipe--add whatever vegetables you wish (peas, carrots, spinach, fennel), use salmon or trout instead of white fish, and choose whatever combination of fish and seafood you wish (try including clams or mussels to the mix)--the total fish and seafood weight should be about 600g (1.33lbs).
  • If you are using smoked fish, remember to slightly undersalt the sour cream bechamel as the fish will add to the saltiness of the dish.
  • To make a standard bechamel for this recipe: sweat the onions and celery in 25g (30ml/2.5TbspP butter, then stir in 25g (20ml/2.5Tbsp) flour, let toast until it is biscuit-coloured. Pour in 250ml (1c) of light or heavy cream and stir until thick.

I'm a quill for hire!

1 comment:

The Head Caterer said...

This looks delicious! Will definitely be trying this out, perhaps pictures of the actual steps towards creating the finished dish would be good! Still a fabulous post.

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