Jun 01 2007
I find it difficult to imagine anything but a fishy supper after our watery walk by the river Dart. Maybe we’ll have a traditional Fish Pie made with a mixture of wild salmon, white fish, smoked haddock and hard boiled eggs in parsley sauce, topped with creamy mashed potato and grated cheese. The important thing is to buy whatever fish is available on the day and that is dictated by the weather at sea; fresh and local are my rules.
This is my favourite quick pie, a Fish Gratin really, which often gets me by when I’m short of time.
Skin the fish and carefully take out the bones using tweezers if necessary. Put the skin and bones in a small pan with * of milk, a bay leaf, parsley stalks, a slice of onion, salt and pepper and infuse by heating gently. Peel and dice a couple of potatoes and slice half a bulb of fennel. Blanche them quickly till just tender, drain and set aside while you dice the fish. Heat a little butter and oil in a large frying pan or wok and quickly turn the fish around till nearly cooked being careful not to break it up. Pile fish, potato and fennel into a well buttered pie dish. Strain the infused milk and use it to make a creamy béchamel sauce; add cheese if you like. Pour the sauce over the fish and top with a mixture of bread, parsley, garlic, lemon rind and butter blitzed together until a slightly sticky crumb consistency. Bake for ten minutes in a hot oven till the topping is crisp. Serve with a crunchy, well dressed green salad.
Drying fish in Hokkaido, Japan
Next day fishy leftovers can be quickly transformed into delicious Fishcakes. With the addition of mashed potato and a dash of anchovy essence, the mixture can be shaped into cakes, dusted with seasoned flour and fried in a light olive oil.
Dart salmon is a luxury of summer not to be missed and anticipated with pleasure. And line caught sea bass baked with fennel and Pernod is, dare I say it, even better! But that is many months away. As spring creeps nearer now is the time to prepare for the long days and short nights of lambing.