Fish pie is a homely dish that has a strong British tradition.
It is filled with white sauce and cheddar cheese, and usually topped with mashed potato, much like shepherd’s pie.
It is sometimes called fisherman’s pie and may include ingredients such as shrimp and hard-boiled eggs.
Traditionally, fish pie uses white fish such as cod or haddock, but you may use salmon and tuna instead.
This recipe is versatile and can be adapted with locally sourced fish such as kurau, tenggiri and tongkol.
I like to use ikan tongkol or skipjack tuna because its strong flavour complements the cheese and mashed potatoes.
However, it is easy to overcook tuna so do not bake for more than 15 minutes because it will continue to cook even when removed from the oven.
The fish is usually poached in a white sauce, which is basically onion bechamel sauce made with butter, onions, flour and milk.
Fresh dill pairs well with fish and I like to sprinkle the herb over the mash.
You may use chives or parsley instead, which are the traditional herbs for this dish.
If you are able to get them, I recommend adding fennel root when wilting the onions as it imparts an additional dimension of flavour.
You may also prepare it with leeks, celery or a combination of these aromatic vegetables to give your dish a different flavour.
Ingredients1 skipjack tuna fillet, save head and bones for fish stock
2 cups whole milk
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
20g unsalted butter20g all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt to taste
250g shredded cheddar cheese
1 lemon, cut into wedgesMash topping4 russet potatoes
3 cups cold water
70g unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt to taste
¼ tsp black pepper
5g fresh dill, finely mincedMethodPeel potatoes and cut them into rough chunks. Boil in water for about 10 minutes until soft enough to break with a fork. Strain the liquid and mash with butter while it is still hot. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Remove skin, fins and bones from tuna fillet, collect together with head and bones for fish stock. Cut fish fillets into 1cm thick slices, season with salt and arrange in a single layer on the bottom of a baking dish. Set aside in refrigerator until needed.
Place head, bones and any fish scraps into a saucepan, add milk and simmer over medium heat for no more than 30 minutes. Strain the bones from the fish stock and set it aside until needed.
For the sauce, heat olive oil in a frying pan and add onions to saute until fully wilted but not brown. Add garlic until wilted. Melt in butter and add flour to cook until it starts to bubble. Finally, add fish stock and simmer until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Take the fish out of the refrigerator and pour in the sauce, spreading it out into a single layer all over the fish. Spread cheddar cheese into an even layer all over the sauce. Then cover the cheese layer with the mashed potato, either by spooning it in dollops and smoothing it out, or by piping through a star nozzle. Sprinkle an even layer of minced dill on the surface of the mashed potato.
Bake in preheated oven at 250°C for 15 minutes until the liquid in the fish starts to bubble and the peaks of the mash start to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving with wedges of fresh lemon.