In a lunchtime hunger pang assault, our minds drifted to food. What would me most like to munch right now. Homemade Irish Fish Pie topped the list. We had to find a recipe.
Thankfully, award-winning food blogger Margaret O’Farrell was kind enough to oblige.
Fish… there’s no two ways about it, we love fish in this house.
Of course, that’s not really so surprising considering that my partner, Alfie has spent most of his life at sea as a commercial diver, so fish is important to him.
When we moved to our home perched on a hilltop in North Tipperary, with magnificent views right down the valley to Knockshegowna and the Devil’s Bit 40 miles away, our list of priorities did not include sourcing fresh fish.
Soon enough, the catch of the day made its way up our list and a trip to the supermarket counter just wasn’t enough. We wanted fresh, taken that day, still slick with a coating of Atlantic sea.
Our way to satisfy our longing for fresh fish was to purchase an in-car little travel fridge and every time we go near the coast, we’d stock up. Our favourite destination for fresh fish is Ali’s in Barna. I must admit, aside from seeking out the finest fish at Ali’s, I had an ulterior motive for choosing Barna: it is absolutely beautiful.
Combine views like that with the nicest fish shop ever and we weren’t left with much choice. Should you find yourself in Barna, you must stop by and say ‘Hi’ to Connie who works there. There’s a lady who looks after her customers. Be sure to tell her Margaret sent you.
So, what happens to that delicious fresh fish that brings us all the way to Ireland’s west coast? Fish pie.
Fish pie is quite the midweek favourite, and I’ve adapted my recipe from the Essential Seafood Book.
The original recipe calls for white fish fillets, like ling or hake, but I use a seafood chowder mix which can contain pieces of smoked fish, prawns, salmon, white fish. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, it’s all lovely.
Be warned – you use quite a few saucepans! However, there is a silver-lining: all the wash up is done before you sit down to dinner. And trust me, it truly is worth the effort.
While we can’t get fresh fish easily here, we do have access to the freshest raw milk. How? We swap with our neighbours – we give them eggs they give us milk. Also, we are lucky enough to have Mossfield Organic Cheese within driving distance, so rather than use cheddar (which will work completely fine if you don’t have an incredible cheese producer locally) I use Mossfield Gouda…. delicious.
The recipe has become so popular in the house here that I now grow dill especially for this dish.
Margaret’s Fabulous Fish Pie from Ali’s of Barna
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Eating time: 30-60 seconds
- 500 g/ 17.5oz potatoes
- 60 ml/ 1/4 cup milk or cream
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 60 g/ 20z butter
- 60 g/ 2oz Mossfield organic cheese
- 800 g/ 28oz chowder mix (a mix of whatever fish you fancy in the pie. This can include haddock, salmon, cod, prawns, mussels etc)
- 375 ml/ 1 and 3/4 cups milk
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon rind
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4. Cook potatoes and mash well with the milk or cream, egg, half of the butter and half of the cheese.
Put the fish in a shallow pan and cover with milk. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain the fish, reserving the milk and set aside.
Melt the remaining butter in a pan and cook onion and garlic over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually add in the reserved milk.
Return to heat and stir constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, dill and salt and pepper to taste.
Put fish in 1.5 litre ovenproof dish, and gently mix in the sauce. Spoon the mashed potato on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 35 minutes until golden.
Serve with some fresh peas or beans from the garden.