Sunday morning, it’s cold and wet outside, another dismal winter’s day. On go the walking shoes, wooly hat, gloves and raincoat and I set off on my five kilometre journey up into Martinborough to purchase my fish. Yes I do have a car but I love to walk. Trudging through mud and puddles I march past sheep, cattle, horses and even ducks that are nicely nestled on lifestyle properties interspersed with olive groves and vineyards.
Martinborough is a small rural town with a population of around 1400 fulltime inhabitants situated 1½ hours drive from Wellington, so we are very fortunate to have our very own fish vendor.
Splashzone is a family owned business, that have their own fishing boat and a number of contract Fisherman who fish off the coast of the Wairarapa at Ngawi , Flatpoint and Tora. Throughout the week they sell their fish in the different towns from their little mobile fish van and on Sunday it is parked in Martinborough Square so that we local people can purchase very fresh fish.
This Sunday I have purchased fresh Tarakihi fillets and scallops to make my families favourite fish pie. When I first met my husband (the Welshman) he made a fantastic fish pie which was absolutely delicious and now our daughter, Chloe, requests this pie every weekend when she returns home from school so every few weeks I visit Splashzone for our fish.
Nothing can beat freshly caught fish, tarakihi has a nice off white colour with a fine texture that when poached in this recipe just flakes apart. The scallops although not large look plump and juicy with bright orange tongues.
This recipe contains hard boiled eggs and I like to use free range eggs, as they tend to be a deeper yellow colour and have more flavour.
I think it is impossible to have a fish pie without potato, that would be like eating a roast dinner without roast potatoes or a piece of pavlova minus the cream. Over the summer I grow our own potatoes and the flavour is exquisite but unfortunately at this time of year I have run out so have to purchase them. An all purpose potato is great for this recipe as they will be mashed.
750 grams tarakihi fillets
1 dozen scallops
2 bay leaves
1 onion peeled and sliced into rings.
3 free range eggs
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 kilogram potatoes
25 grams Butter
60 mls milk (extra)
100 grams grated parmesan cheese.
60 grams butter
45 grams flour
Strained milk from fish
100 grams grated cheese
Salt and pepper
150 grams cream
Now you have all the ingredients it is time to produce this delicious pie.
Peel and wash the potatoes, cut into even pieces and salt the water. Bring the potatoes to the boil then simmer to cook. Once cooked drain the potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooking prepare the fish, eggs and cheese sauce.
Wash the fish to check there are no scales or bones, wipe with a paper towel and place in a frying pan. Add the milk, bay leaves, peppercorns and sliced onion. Add some salt for seasoning. Place the pan on an element and bring to the boil, turn down, cover and simmer until cooked 8 to 10 minutes.
Wash the scallops if they need it and put aside.
Place the eggs in a pot of cold water, cover, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes until hardboiled. Remove from heat and add cold water to the pot. Once cool peel and chop eggs.
Now the smell of the fish is permeating throughout the kitchen and lounge. Chloe has managed to prise herself away from the TV to investigate the smell and offer to help and do any tasting.
Remove the fish from the pan and strain the milk, reserving the milk for the cheese sauce. Gently flake the fish and then taste it. The fish is juicy and moist, I could eat it now! Better not there would be a mutiny at home.
Melt the butter in a large pot, stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat and add the strained milk slowly, stirring it constantly. Bring to the boil, turn down and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper and add the cheese, stir until melted.
Stir in the cream, flaked fish, scallops, chopped egg and parsley.
Pour the fish into a 2.0 litre oven dish.
Heat oven to 200°C.
Mash the potatoes in the pot. Heat the extra milk and butter in another pot until melted then beat into the potato. Season the potato with salt if needed. Time to taste again!
Spoon the potato onto the fish mixture and spread carefully with a knife. Make sure all the fish is covered. Using a fork scrape it gently over the potato leaving a nice even pattern then sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese.
Place the dish in the oven on a baking tray and cook for 30 minutes or until cooked. The potato and cheese topping will start turning brown.
This pie can be served with steamed broccoli or a fresh green salad and a crusty bread but we love to eat this just as a pie so all the ingredients can be savoured. This meal contains plenty of fish so every mouthful is bursting with flavour and the cheese sauce enhances the taste without overpowering it.
If you follow my blog you will notice that my son, Sam, is missing from this food experience, in fact he is very conspicuous by his absence. Sam hates fish! His loss is certainly our gain!
This pie is definitely a family affair, when I purchase my fish I buy some extra for my cats, TK and Asterix. Once they have eaten the fish they park themselves close by waiting patiently for the cheese, they are both big cheese lovers, I hope no vets read this blog!
(Last week when I walked up to the Square it was raining but my camera wouldn’t work so had to go and photograph the Mobile Fish van today and as you can see the weather was perfect.)
I hope you all ENJOY this meal and love it as much as we do.
Food lovers check out the Rick Stein Food Odyssey show in Wellington and Auckland in August.