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Monday, September 6, 2010

Fish Pie - For Kings Or Beggars

By Arthur C. Throovest


This fish pie started out as an economical way to feed a large family. I tweaked it, however, to satisfy a Cordon Bleu audience simply by adding exotic sea food. So, pick any end of the spectrum that suits your taste - and pocket!

The whole dish is based on ends of cod. Your market or fishmonger ought to gladly oblige in providing you with a limitless supply of these tail ends.

This part of the fish might be sold off as cat food. No worries. As long as it's fresh it will be just fine. This part of the cod has a rich flavour and it's this richness that makes Throovest's fish pie a real wow!

There will be bones. This is not the problem it sounds. The bones are all large and can easily be dealt with. In 2010, 2 kilogrammes of cod pieces was less than £3.00p in Birmingham fish market. This recipe is based on using all 2 kilos. Get your biggest pot, wash the fish and throw it in. add a pint and a half of full cream milk, 2 chopped onions and 2 whole cloves of crushed garlic.

Cook this very gently, adding half a cup of olive oil, a level teaspoon of cinnamon, about a third of a nutmeg, finely grated, and a level teaspoon of fine, white pepper. Add about a teaspoon of dried, Greek herbs. Stir gently and occasionally.

While this is simmering for about 15 minutes, cut up 2 pounds of potatoes and boil in half a pint of unsalted water. Keep the lid firmly on so that the spuds steam more than boil. Drain the liquor from the fish pot together with the water from the potatoes into a holding basin. This forms the basis of an accompanying cheese sauce.

When the fish has cooled, the large bones will come away easily and will not be irksome to identify. Remove as many as you can - no matter how diligent you are, there will always be some left, so warn your guests!. Mash the potatoes and add 6 ounces of butter, plus a cupful of full cream milk. You can use semi-skimmed, but always supplement this with some cream.

This is the beggars version of this fish pie. For the kings version, add scallops, peeled shrimps, crab, lobster or any other exotic shellfish.

That's the only difference... except that the kings version will be 4 or 5 times more expensive. The added seafood should not be cooked with the cod.

Add these when the cod is put into the roasting dish.

Put the fish in a large roasting dish together with the king's additions if you're using them, and cover with the mashed potatoes. This is now ready to roll at a fairly fierce heat [maybe 190 degrees for a fan oven] and you can put it aside until half an hour before you want to serve. Now reduce the fish and potato liquor, adding two tablespoons of any white flour. Add as much strong cheese as you like and a glass of dry, white wine. I usually add

8 ounces of extra strong, English cheddar, but that's not to everyone's taste. If you use a large quantity of cheese, it won't need extra seasoning, hence the absence of salt in the potatoes.

Allow half an hour to cook the pie, wicking the heat up towards finale to bring the topping to a crisp brown. The perfect accompaniment is a simple serving of fresh garden peas - and a bottle of crisp, white wine, of course. Whether you're catering for kings or beggars, if your family and friends like fish, they'll adore this one.

You can visit to explore more interesting and fascinating recipes.

Arthur C Throovest ran an outside catering company, Big Triangle, which serviced Birmingham City Council for their premier, prestigious events. The Birmingham International Film Festival was the most demanding event for this co-operative, catering for 500 people for lunch and serving them all within 45 minutes; all with different tastes,too. Special cultural diets all had to be catered for and the whole operation took place out of doors in Birmingham City Centre.

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