Top Fish Pies...
(...but only the best ones I've found so far!)
Here are some of the best fish
pies that I have tasted from around Cornwall. They are certainly not the only
Top Fish Pies to be had, but they were good, and I do look forward to
discovering the others!
This is (or was)
my favourite... this Top Fish Pie hails from the Kings Arms in Marazion, and was
the very best (it's only sadly a "was" because I believe the chef changed, and presentation is now a
but it is still a Top Fish Pie!). Lovely chunky flavoursome fish, big prawns, not too dry or sloppy,
and a fantastic green leaf, parmesan, rich sun-dried tomatoes & potato salad on
the side! Completely Wicked!
A great Top Fish
Pie from the Molesworth Arms in Wadebridge (it's called a "Padstow Fish Pie"!)
This was a very splendid fish pie with a delicious sauce that slowly thickened
as it cooled, with some nice
chunky fish pieces in it, with a good number of big prawns (then yet another one!)
in it, AND scallops!
Tasty peas - all that was needed on the side.
A Top Fish Pie
from the Polgooth Inn (in Polgooth!)
Good Pie. Thoroughly filling (appetite-wise!), nice deep dish, good bits of
fish, and a well dressed and
thought-about salad on the side. Tasty presumably home-baked rolls too!
Another great Top Fish Pie
from the Ship Inn in Fowey (a favourite pub!)
The fish pie is always good here, and comes with a nicely presented and tasty
dish of fresh vegetables.
Can't beat it, sitting by the open fire with a pint of Tribute on a cold wet
day, and Fish Pie!
Other Quite Splendid Fish Pies...
You will find a great
Fish Pie at the Crow's Nest Inn (with a few oddities of vegetables on the
Definitely a good fish pie, but just a little let down by the vegetable garnish!
Some toppings are also better
than others, and this was a good'n! Fish Pie recommended.
Another great Fish Pie can be found at the Pier House Hotel in Charlestown
- an excellent location!
Lovely soft mash topping, lots of fish - white fish, smoked mackerel, prawns, and a tasty sauce
just the right consistency, served in a good size bowl. Just the ticket!
The "Not-Quite-Up-To-It" Fish Pies...
These are however Fish Pies
that edge towards the bad and the ugly side. Not awful perhaps, but just
functional or average. I have not named them as I do not wish to offend. They
come in many forms, but the common mistake is using a too flat, and shallow
dish. There was however one Fish Pie that I had, that could still be classed as
awful... though again I shall not name it, and I don't even have a photograph of
it. It was from a previously excellent foodie pub that had changed its owners
chef. It was sadly rather more like a liquidised fish soup. Ugh, not good. You win some you
The only tip I can give on
trying out a new pub or restaurant, is to either try to get a glimpse of another
customer who has ordered the Fish Pie, or just accept it as a great new adventure,
and just try it! Here is what I call an "average" fish pie...
Fish Pie. Can be tasty, but in a shallow dish, with a basic salad on the side.
Just not a great one.
...and for the sake of
variety, here is something a
little different. Not a fully-fledged pie perhaps, just a pretend one:
This is the
"Deconstructed" Fish Pie variant. Not my favourite, and a bit artistic, but some
may love it!
And a Nice Alternative...
Now this was good! Not a fish
pie exactly, but a fine alternative if it is on offer - the excellently produced
fine example of a simple but very tasty Fish Chowder from the Godolphin Arms in
The Home-baked Fish Pie ~ just one way of doing it Proper!
I prefer a family-size fish
myself, for when guests come, so do not tend to make the individual-size pies.
To make the smaller ones, you just, well, use smaller dishes, and divide up the
ingredients per dish! Don't use shallow dishes. And
make sure of course that they are ovenproof. We have a range at home, so for us,
Proper Fish Pie gets baked the Proper way!But of course if you are using a
standard oven, to get the browned topping, just put the baked fish pie (or pies)
under the grill for a jiffy or so before serving. The
beauty of the range is that it does both at once.
Now there is some debate as to
what goes into a good fish pie. I have always been brought up with chopped
hard-boiled eggs in fish pie, and have usually put a few peas in. My Mum always
put eggs in. The great Jamie Oliver puts eggs in. Stargazy Pie has eggs in. I put eggs in. But you can
just as easily not put eggs in. Jamie Oliver puts chopped carrots in. I don't.
Most fish pies that I have had in Cornwall don't put eggs in, peas in or carrots in! It is
Whatever you do, put the fish
in first, and despite what is says in some recipes, don't bother cooking it
first. It is far too much hassle, makes the kitchen smell, and the fish has
plenty long enough to cook and stay firm when the pie cooks.
So here is a simple ten-point
1. Chop the
raw fish into good size chunks. Use both white fish and smoked fish. Cod and
haddock are great, but use whatever you have available. Pollack is also good.
Don't bother with the ready made-up bags of mixed fish. Just buy chunks of the
fish you fancy using. Frozen fish works well; fresh fish when by the sea is
obviously the best!
2. Add some
frozen prawns (to be honest, I've never used fresh prawns in a fish pie) and
maybe some pieces of sliced salmon or whatever else you have available.
Scallops? Mussels are not always everybody's friend, so check first.
Add some chopped hard-boiled eggs and a few peas.
4. Add some
ground black pepper (I'm never shy with it), some chopped fresh parsley (I hate
to admit, but in the photo below, I had to use dried parsley; fresh is much
tastier! I'm not shy with that either), and some lemon juice.
5. Cook some
potatoes to mash for the topping. Add a little nutmeg when you mash them. Do not
use too much butter and milk - just enough to get a good mash but not too soft
or too dry.
6. While the
potatoes are cooking, get the sauce ready. This is a basic white (bechamel)
sauce. I prepare it the easy way - no need to fuss with the carefully prepared
butter and flour roux, with milk slowly added. Simply put 2oz plain flour, 2oz
butter, and just under 1 pint of milk in a saucepan. Add a good teaspoon of
mustard powder for extra seasoning and a little zing. Vary quantities of all
ingredients for more or less sauce.
7. Heat this
over medium heat, whisking to mix thoroughly all the time. Works a treat. Do not
boil, just bring to simmering, first few glops. Add a handful of grated cheese
and stir well. Take off the heat.
8. When the
sauce is ready, pour evenly over the fish dish. Add the mash topping. Use a
rubber spatula, and add all the way round the edge, then fill in the middle.
Fork pattern over the whole to ensure all is sealed in. Do not leave air holes -
the sauce will bubble out! Top with grated cheese (and optional breadcrumbs if
desired. I didn't this time).
9. Bake in the
oven at around 190°C for 33 minutes (I've always
done it for that long!). Position near the top if using a range. Otherwise, you
may need to brown under the grill afterwards if desired.
10. Leave to
stand for five minutes (allows the sauce to thicken slightly after cooking), and
With the main
ingredients in the dish, pour the prepared white sauce over, and apply the
potato and cheese topping
Bake in the range
around 190°C for just 33 minutes (I'm
strangely particular about that!)
to brown the top
...et voila! PROPER FISH PIE!
Yum! To vary the
thickness and quantity of sauce, just put a bit less or more in.
(but bear in mind, there's nothing worse than a dry fish pie!)