Here’s a delicious, versatile salmon pie recipe that always makes a big splash at the table.
Without doubt, you’ve heard of British codfish pies, Cajun catfish pies and other worldly creations that showcase “fish under covers.” Wouldn’t it be great though to have a local fish pie recipe that’s especially geared for the big, hearty appetite of a West Coast salmon fisherman and his prized catch?
Well, here it is! A hefty, savory pie made from BC salmon, locally grown vegetables, which I strive to use as much as possible in order to “eat local,” and a delectable herb seasoned sauce that is sure to tickle the fancy of any fish lover. And, just to reel you in a little further if I didn’t already have you hooked at “hefty savory pie,” did I mention that topping off the deliciously hidden tender chunks of succulent fish and delectable ingredients in grand style is a rich cover of cheesy, mashed potatoes?
What I like most about this dish, unlike many common fish pies where the fish is cooked to the point of disintegration, is the fact that the salmon holds its shape and remains moist and chunky right up to landing on the table. This recipe creates a fork-able fish dish – so ditch the spoon!
This versatile delight has two versions: the “connoisseur’s special,” where everything is cooked up from scratch producing a pie that is sure to earn gourmet status, and the “quickie pie,” where leftover mashed potatoes, cooked tidbits of vegetables hiding out in the fridge and leftover cooked fish (or even a jar of chunky, home-canned salmon) stand in for the fresh catch.
When making the pie from scratch there will be an extra kettle or two to wash but believe me, the raves received at the table are well worth the fuss! For even more variety, instead of crowning the pie with mashed potatoes try topping it with tender pastry crust, fluffy buttermilk biscuit dough or seasoned breadcrumbs.
I find that a nine to 10-inch earthen dish or a clay baker (as shown in photo) works great and makes it easy to dish up evenly balanced servings of filling and topping. This pie serves 4 to 6.
Ingredients and Recipe
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut in half
¼ cup cream
1 lightly beaten egg
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese (plus 3 tablespoons set aside)
Boil potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain; add cream, egg and ¼ cup of the cheese. Beat or mash until smooth, set aside.
Preparing the Salmon
1 pound skinless salmon fillets
1 cup milk
Sprig each of fresh rosemary and oregano (or basil)
½ stalk thinly sliced celery
Salt to taste
Put fish in shallow pan, cover with milk. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and poach 2 to 3 minutes, depending on thickness. Fish should be barely cooked and still firm. Drain and reserve the liquid. Set salmon aside.
2 tablespoons butter
1 minced onion
2 tablespoons flour
Cooking liquid from fish
2 tablespoons lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 cups vegetables of choice – parsnips, carrots and peas are my picks
Melt butter in saucepan, sauté onion until soft. Sprinkle with flour and cook 1 minute or until flour is lightly tanned. Slowly add the reserved cooking liquid, stirring constantly, and cook until thick and smooth. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice, rind and fold in the vegetables.
Assembling the pie
Using a sharp knife cut salmon into uniform, bite-sized chunks. Gently fold salmon into vegetable sauce mixture. Empty into a buttered baking dish (about 1.2 to 1.5-litre), sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper. Spoon mashed potato mixture evenly over top and sprinkle with additional 3 tablespoons of cheese.
Bake pie in preheated 350° Farenheit oven for 15 minutes or until the topping is golden.
Crack open a bottle of white Chardonnay or Riesling from a local winery or pop the cork on a crisp white homemade wine from your own cellar to toast this West Coast fisherman’s feast. Now count your blessings, spoon up and dig in.