This simple fish pie is perfect on a cool evening with a glass of white wine - something with enough acid to cut through the richness.
I have cravings for this baby. Give it a whirl - you won't be disappointed.
60 g (21/4 oz) butter 2 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 large fennel bulb (about 500 g/1 lb 2 oz), finely sliced (reserve the fennel tips for the sauce)
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) boneless, skinless white fish fillets, such as snapper, flathead, blue-eye or ling
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) dry white wine or vermouth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
a few parsley stalks
a few celery leaves
40 g (11/2 oz/1/3 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
a large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk
250 g (9 oz/1 cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
11/2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel tips or dill
16 slices of white bread, crusts removed
softened butter, for spreading
1 handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
75 g (21/2 oz/3/4 cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
Melt a third of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the leek and fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the celery is tender. Remove from the pan and set aside, but keep the pan at the ready for continuing the sauce.
Put the fish, wine, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley stalks, celery leaves and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan, then add enough cold water to cover. Slowly bring to the boil over medium heat, removing the fish with a slotted spoon as soon as it becomes opaque. Continue to cook the stock for a further 15 minutes, then strain and keep warm over low heat. When the fish is cool enough to handle, break it into large flakes.
Add the remaining butter to the same pan you sautéed the fennel in and place over medium–high heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, stir in the flour and nutmeg and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) of the warm fish stock until smooth. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking for 5 minutes, or until very smooth and thickened slightly. Stir in the reserved fennel mixture and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take the pan off the heat, then stir in the crème fraîche, mustard, lemon juice and fennel tips or dill. Season well. Carefully fold the sauce through the fish, trying not to break it up too much, then pour into a large, well-greased ceramic baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5). To make the topping, spread the bread with softened butter, cut into small cubes and toss with the parsley and parmesan. Scatter evenly over the top of the fish mixture. Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the topping is crunchy and golden and the filling is hot.
VARIATIONS: Replace the fish or half the fish with some cooked prawns (shrimp) and scallops and add a tablespoon of finely chopped capers. You can also use good-quality tinned or bottled tuna and a ready-made fish stock to save time.
This recipe is from Grub - Favourite Food Memories by Jane Lawson
Copyright Jane Lawson.
Image by Photographer Steve Brown.
Text and images cannot be replicated in any format without permission from the author.