BRITISH FISH PIE - SEAFOOD MADE RIGHT!

A close sister to the very well-loved Shepherd’s Pie, Fisherman’s Pie is lovingly cooked with cuttings of white fish, prawns and other seafood. It is topped with a creamy layer of cheese infused mashed potatoes. Fish pie is an excellent option to devour if you find yourself with some delicious seafood in your refrigerator. Fish Pie if prepared well is also a great dietary addition replete with healthy nutritious content.

Although a renownedly humble British delicacy, the origins are curiously known to be made by the Romans. Sometime after Julius Caesar brought his first Roman military expedition to the land of the Britons in 55BC, the practice of eating fish more regularly was introduced to the populace. It is also said that fish was made into an acceptable alternative to meat during the advent of Christainty that made fasting a prevalent practice among the masses. The Roman enthusiasm of fish and meat made fish pie a staple into the British diet and today we have the tastiest, most accessible versions of the dish available at most stores and gourmet centres.

Beyond the Roman origin story, fish pie is also closely associated with the ascension of Henry I. A known seafood lover, Henry I was presented with a Christman lamprey pie every year until he made a tradition of Yarmouth cooks send him two dozen pies every year containing 100 herrings each. Fast-forward to 1530 and the reign of another Henry, and the custom of a royal fish pie became a thing in Britain once again. This time, the Prior of Llanthony in Gloucester decided to bake eels and carp into a pie for Henry VIII. Unclear if fish pie became a regular gift for the Royalty during the Middle Ages, it did however bore traces of it when a “royal” eel pie was sent to the Prince of Wales at the time in the year 1752.

The contemporary English Fish pie with all its culinary development over the years, generations and cultural variations is known to be made with white, often smoked fish like cod, hammock or halibut. The fish pie sauce is a rich white sauce made of cheddar cheese and milk is where the fish is poached into. Prawns and hard boiled eggs are other common additional ingredients. It is oven-baked in a deep dish but is not usually made with the shortcrust or puff pastry casing that is associated with most savoury pies (e.g. steak and kidney pie).

The recipe of fish pie can be tweaked to serve all occasions ranging from a high-end, extravagant affair to a simple, homely weekend dinner for four. The luxury fish pie is a well tested recipe for the extravagant fancy dinners that build on the classic recipe by using scallops, prawns and salmon. The white sauce is wonderfully made of butter and vermouth and is served with wine to compliment the meaty filling of the pie. The luxury fish pie is an excellent serving that can be offered at Christmas dinner parties or even at Thanksgiving.

On the contrary to the luxury fish pie, a simple fish pie recipe can be easily prepared and is perfectly comforting for a mid-week family meal. The staple ingredients for the dish are salmon, cod, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and more vegetables of your choice. This is essentially made to be a healthy alternative and hence is reduced in its butter and fat content. Sweet corn and spinach are excellent additions that can be used in this simple fish pie recipe to maximise the nutritional value.

For a rather economical version of this recipe, frozen peas and mushrooms can be added to the sauce instead of prawns. For a healthier and low fat variation, a low fat soft cheese and low fat milk can be used stead of regular cheese and milk. Store bought fish pie mix is a quick fix for anyone who does not enjoy the time and luxury to prepare the pie from scratch. For family dinners or office lunches, the British fish pie is truly the saviour. An alternative to meat but just as nutritious, fish pie must be added to the weekly diet for absolute taste and health both.

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