Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saucy Fish Pie

Under the sea...
I thought this would be a really fun recipe.  There is a black and white picture of the Saucy Fish Pie in the cookbook, and it looked so cute with the piped potato outline and the little olive slice bubbles.  When you think about it, what we've got here is fish that's been cooked, flaked, suspended in a sauce, and then poured into the shape of a fish.  It's fish in disguise... as fish!  There's something endearing about that!

So, with great attention to detail, I crafted this dear little fishy for my family's dinner.  Even though it looks like a short recipe, there are a lot of different steps to it.  Just to start out, you've got to peel and cook the potatoes, then mash them, then pipe them into a fish shape.  (Pro tip: Do you have a piping bag that you really like?  Don't use it! You'll be cleaning mashed potatoes out of that sucker forever if you do.  Instead, take a large Ziplock bag, cut off one of the bottom corners, and use that to pipe your potatoes.)  Then, you've got to stick your fish outline and the dish with your actual cod fillets in the oven and cook them while you prep all the garnish bits.  And so on. (The complete recipe is at the bottom of the page, as usual.)

What does it taste like?  It's kind of Nursing Home Food: soft fish, mashed potato, and sauce.  I didn't hate it, although it was pretty bland.  My husband felt the same as I did.  We both thought it would be better with a bit of pepper, but seeing as the recipe calls for packaged soup mix there is PLENTY of salt.  I can't understand what the chopped, hardboiled eggs add to the dish.  I guess that it would be wasteful to use a slice of egg for the fish's eye and then throw the rest of the egg away, but it's really strange to have the egg chunks in the fish/ mushroom soup sauce.  In conclusion, this dish is a pain in the ass to make, and it doesn't exactly make up for your trouble with great taste... but it looks so frickin' cute!

Now, let's check in on our little fishy friend to see how he's doing...

"You can tell by the way I use my walk, I'm a woman's fish - no time to talk."
Oh, hey!  I see he's sprouted legs and making his way on land!  Good for you, Darwin Fish! That ocean never appreciated your talents, anyway.  Show us that fierce walk of yours!

This recipe comes from a book called "Woman's Own Book of Casserole Cookery".  I also possess a book (courtesy of Gabrielle, my very best friend in the whole entire world) called "His Turn to Cook" which supposedly focusses on manly cooking.  So now I have questions regarding gendered cooking:  What makes a recipe inherently "feminine"?  What makes a recipe inherently "masculine"?  What, exactly, is so intrinsically female about "Saucy Fish Pie"? (On second thought, please don't answer that last question.  Please.)   Hand in your essays by next week... 6 pages, double-spaced, with references. 

Saucy Fish Pie
11/2 lb. potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 13-oz. pkt cod fillets
1/2 pint milk
1 11/2-pint  pkt. mushroom soup
2 hardboiled eggs
1 stuffed olive, sliced (**I actually used more than one**)

Pipe or fork the mashed potato into a simple fish shape on an ovenproof serving dish and build up the sides, forming a case.  Bake in the oven at 350° for half an hour or until golden brown.  Bake the cod fillets in the milk in a cooler part of the oven at the same time as the potato case.  Strain off the milk and make up to 3/4 pint with water.  Flake the fish. Add the liquid to the mushroom soup powder in a saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring all the time and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Chop the eggs - reserving 1 slice for the eye.  Add the chopped eggs to the saucepan together with the fish.  Pile into the potato case and garnish with egg slice and slices of olive.  Serve with a green vegetable or with a crisp salad.  Serves 4. 

This recipe is from the Woman's Own Book of Casserole Cookery by Jane Beaton, published in 1967.


  1. Ok... I took the leftover Saucy Fish Pie to work with me for lunch today, and I've got another description for it: It's like eating mashed potatoes and gravy, but you've got seafood chowder insead of gravy. And there's chunks of hardboiled egg in your chowder/gravy. [sigh] I still don't understand the egg thing.

  2. Oh, Saucy Fish Pie... you are my least favorite lady-parts euphemism EVER.

  3. My mother in law always makes an egg sauce (a bechamel with hard boiled eggs in it ) with her fish dishes . I think it's mainly for extra protein, and because the eggs are more filling then the fish alone. Adding eggs makes it feel more like a "real" meal for her meat loving husband, who is still willing to let her have her Catholic meatless Fridays.