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Fish pie is a popular English savory pie that is made with fish, vegetables and a cream sauce. At its simplest, fish pie is an easy, quick and tasty dish. It also can be a gourmet offering that takes some time to prepare.
Almost any type of fish can be used in a fish pie. Cod, salmon and haddock are popular choices. One can buy packages containing a mixture of different types of fish, and the blend also works well in this dish.
The crust of a fish pie is sometimes similar to that made for a steak and kidney pie, another savory pie popular in England. These pies are prepared with puff pastry that can be made using flour, butter and eggs or bought ready-made. A bottom layer of pastry lines the baking dish and, after the ingredients are poured in, the top piece of pastry covers the pie. Butter or egg is sometimes brushed over the top crust to create a shiny glaze.
Other versions have mashed potato toppings and are more similar to cottage pie, which is traditionally made from Sunday’s leftover roast beef. For this version of the pie, potatoes are cut, boiled and then mashed with cream or milk, butter and spices. They are spread on top of the pie and sometimes dotted with melted butter or sprinkled with grated cheese.
Depending on the time and effort one wants to put into a fish pie, one can poach the fish beforehand and use the leftover liquid prepare a cream sauce. Fish is usually poached in milk or a mixture of milk and cream. After it is cooked, the fish is removed and the poaching liquid is used to make a cream sauce. One also can prepare a roux of butter and flour and then add the liquid. Vegetables such as onions, carrots and leeks are sauteed and added to the finished cream sauce.
An easier dish can be made with finely shredded vegetables and small pieces of fish. These ingredients are placed in a baking dish with a little bit of cream and baked. A mashed potato topping can make this dish a one-course meal.
A version of English fish pie that is popular in America's New England states is lobster pie. Chunks of lobster are cooked in butter and sherry. The lobster is set aside after it is cooked and the remaining liquids are made into a roux with flour. Cream is added, and the sauce is cooked until it thickens. The lobster and any vegetables are then added to the sauce, which is then poured into a baking dish and covered with buttered bread crumbs.