Fish pie with crispy potato topping

According to MasterChef judges, you can never have too many crispy potatoes! (Do you remember Brent's desperate efforts to get some crispy potatoes on the plate in the grand finale?)

We couldn't agree more: crispy potatoes make everything taste better. So instead of the usual mashed potato pie topping, this fish pie uses thin slices of potato tossed in melted butter and then baked on top of the pie to golden crispy perfection.

Underneath the potato topping, you'll find plenty of old-fashioned fish pie goodness, rich in omega 3: chunks of white fish, smoked fish and prawns wrapped in a mustardy-herby sauce.
This makes an ideal family dinner or casual dinner with friends while the nights are still cool. Serve with a lively fresh salad on the side.

Ingredients:

Potato topping
450 g waxy potatoes, peeled and left whole
20 g (1 Tbsp) butter, melted
Sea salt to taste

Pie filling
40 g (2 Tbsp) butter
1 leek including a little of the green part, halved lengthways and finely sliced
1 small onion or ½ medium, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthways and sliced
50 g (1/3 cup) plain flour
2 cups milk
100 g vintage cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Good pinch cayenne pepper
Large handful each of fresh parsley, chives and tarragon, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
200 g thick skinless and boneless white fish fillets (like ling or blue eye), cut into bite-size chunks
200 g hot smoked salmon, broken into bite-size chunks
150 g raw prawn meat, deveined
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C fan-forced.

  2. Start by steaming the potatoes for your pie topping. Place the whole peeled potatoes in the top half of a steamer and steam until just tender — about 10–12 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. (If you don't have a steamer, you can just cook the potatoes in boiling slightly salted water, draining very well when cooked.) Place the almost-cooked potatoes in a bowl in a single layer and place in the freezer while you prepare the pie filling.

  3. For the pie filling, melt the 40 g butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Add the leek, onion and carrot. Cover partially and cook gently until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for a minute or so. Gradually add the milk, stirring well to avoid lumps. Simmer the sauce over low heat for a few minutes until thick and creamy.

  4. Remove sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, all the herbs, lemon zest and black pepper. Taste the sauce and decide whether you need a little salt (the cheese and mustard are quite salty and the smoked salmon will add more saltiness, so go gently). Set the sauce aside while you prepare the potato topping.

  5. Take the potatoes out of the freezer. They should be cool enough to handle now. Slice potatoes thinly with a sharp knife. Toss with the melted 20 g of butter and season well with sea salt.

  6. To assemble the pie, fold the white fish, smoked fish, prawns and eggs through the sauce. Pour the sauce into a large casserole or pie dish. Cover the sauce with the potato slices, overlapping them slightly so they all fit in one layer (it's fine if some of the potato is in a second layer though).

  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy and golden and the sauce is bubbling underneath. If you want the potatoes more golden, turn your oven griller on for the last few minutes, watching closely so it doesn't burn.

  8. Leave to settle for a few minutes before serving.

Tips:

There are two different types of smoked salmon or ocean trout:

  • Cold smoked salmon comes in thin slices that are often served in salads and as part of breakfast dishes.
  • Hot smoked salmon comes in chunky portions. It's the hot smoked variety that you want for this pie because it's nice and chunky.
  • Many brands of hot smoked salmon now offer 'deli bites', pieces of fish that are usually off-cuts from larger pieces. Buying hot smoked fish this way is a fantastic money-saver, and the fish pieces are perfect for using in this pie or any dish where you'll be breaking up the fish anyway.

Recipe developed by award-winning cook and food writer Andrea Ball.