Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

From beans to deconstructed fish pie

You know what I haven’t made in a while? Fish pie. And do you know why? It’s a wile mission.

It’s also wile good though, sweet and savoury and really satisfying. It’s the sort of food I’d imagine serving in my restaurant, if ever the day comes. Don’t laugh! I could too cook in a restaurant (so long as there’s plenty of red wine to help cope with the stress). For a start, when was the last time you saw beans on toast on a bistro menu? Exactly. I can’t understand it either.

The same goes for fried egg sandwiches, crisp sandwiches (with cheese), bacon sandwiches… Can you see the theme here?


Seriously though. If you’re a millionaire and you’re looking for a way to lose money through a poor investment (a la Brewster’s Millions), I’m your man for a new restaurant venture. We’ll call it ‘The Italian Scallion’ and I’ll bring the wine.

In the meantime however…

In a bid to satisfy my fish pie yearnings, I have hit upon a way of combining the necessary components without all the hassle. Fishy mash offers much of the same benefits of the classic fish pie – sweet and savoury and really satisfying – but you don’t have to make a béchamel sauce, which at 6pm after a day’s toil makes a big difference.

Ideally, you’ll want to have a lot of left-over mash as peeling and cooking spuds negates much of the handiness aspect of this dish. Alternatively – and this is an option I regularly opt for – a family pack of Mash Direct is nearly as good as it gets.

Ideally also, you’ll want to use un-dyed fish (why eat dye when you don’t have to) but as it’s not available everywhere, the dyed stuff still packs plenty of smoky punch.

Honestly, I urge you to give this recipe a try. Our two little humans love it and even the left-overs the following day are delicious cold.

INGREDIENTS (for 4 – two big and two small)

left-over mash (about 800g or so)
tbsp of butter
300g (or thereabouts) of smoked fish (haddock, coley, cod etc)
about a pint of full fat milk
salt and pepper
grated cheddar
150g of frozen peas



Start by lovingly placing the smoked fish in a saucepan and covering with the full fat milk. You might need more than a pint.
Stick it on the heat and bring to a simmer.

This is the only labour intensive part of the process because you have to keep an eye on the milk. Just before it boils, when the first bubbles start to appear (after about five or six minutes), the fish will be cooked through.  So remove from the heat and lift out the fish.
Pour away all but half a pint of the milk and add to that the tablespoon of butter.

As your fish cools enough to handle, blast the peas in the microwave until cooked through and then do the same with the leftover mash (or Mash Direct).

Pour half hot milk and melted butter into the hot mash and whisk through.

If you’re using the Mash Direct, it will likely need less buttery milk before it loosens.

Add more of the milk and whisk through until you get the consistency you want. I like it a little looser than usual.

Season with a little salt and pepper and then add the peas and stir through. Flake and fold through two thirds of the smoked fish and then taste and adjust the seasoning again.

Divide between the four bowls (two big and two small) and then top with the remaining fish and sprinkle over some cheese. Blast under a hot grill for a minute and then serve with more peas or broadbeans and a big smile.

Now all I need to do is open that restaurant.

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