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How to make next level fish pie

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Use 10 game-changing tips to make the perfect fish pie. This is comfort food at its best with creamy mash on top and fresh seafood in a silky sauce beneath.

Generous chunks of fish in a creamy white sauce, with just a hint of smokiness, hiding beneath a soft layer of buttery mash with a crispy, golden crust – fish pie is a national treasure of a dish. But it often contains overcooked seafood, which is something we set out to fix in our next level fish pie by not pre-poaching the fish. It cooks gently and once only.


We’ve also upped the seafood flavour by making a stock base from what would normally be wasted and we’ve given you the option of whether to include eggs and how to garnish the dish. A great fish pie is the sum of its parts and we’ve considered all of them.

10 tips for the perfect fish pie:

1. Choose the right fish
2. Twice cooked is not nice
3. Prawn stock
4. Crème fraîche
5. Anise
6. Capers
7. Eggs
8. Keep it contained
9. Crisps for crunch
10. Relax

1. Choose the right fish

Different types of fish cut up

Our ideal selection is smoked haddock for flavour, fresh white fish for chunkiness, salmon to add colour, plus raw prawns for meatiness, luxury and to enhance the stock with their shells. 

2. Prawn stock 

Fish and sauce in a saucepan

There is so much flavour in prawn heads and shells it seems silly not to use them to make a base for the sauce. This is key to taking fish pie to the next level. We’ve made an easy milk prawn bisque as a base to the sauce.

3. Twice cooked is not nice

Fish in creamy sauce with herbs

Classic recipes for fish pie ask you to poach the fish first in milk, then flake it and cook it again in the oven for 30 mins. This is way too long for delicate fish. To counterbalance, add the fish raw – cut into large chunks – into a thick sauce, so its cooking juices thin out and flavour the sauce.

4. Crème fraîche

Creme fraiche in a bowl

We’ve used crème fraîche to add richness to the sauce along with a touch of acidity, but we’ve gone for a lower fat option as the flour in the base means it won’t split when boiled.

5. Anise

Three star anises

The fennel taste of aniseed is a great complement to fish. Adding the flavour of aniseed in the form of star anise (and maybe a splash of Pernod) will really lift the sauce.

6. Capers

Capers in a bowl

Chopped capers help season the sauce and give a nod to the classic tartare sauce that is often served with fish.

7. Eggs

Eggs and potatoes cooking in a pan

The great divider! They can easily be left out if you don’t like them. For egg fans, we’ve cut down on the pans by cooking them with the potatoes for 8 mins so they are just cooked.

8. Keep it contained

Fish pie covered with mash in a square dish

With potato-topped pies always start topping with a ring of mash on the edge of the dish, using the side of the dish to scrape the mash off the spatula, then work your way into the middle. This totally encases the dish without messily pushing any filling up the sides. It’s small tricks like this that make all the difference.

9. Crispy topping

Fish pie with crispy potato top in rectangular dish

There are lots of ways to top a fish pie – for a rustic, homely finish, drag a fork along the mash and dot with butter, so the ridges brown and become crispy. For a cheesy finish simply scatter with grated Gruyère or a medium cheddar which bubbles and browns as it cooks. But our favourite has to be crushed up salt and vinegar crisps sprinkled over.

10. Relax

Fish pie on a dish

There is nothing to be achieved, other than scorching your mouth, by eating the pie straight from the oven. Leave the pie to cool and settle for at least 10 mins before serving and, even after 20 mins, it will still be piping hot. 

See the full recipe for our next level fish pie.

Like this? Find more fabulous fish pie recipes...

Fish pie - in four steps
Friday night fish pie
Fish pie with saffron mash
Rosti-topped fish pie
Spring fish pie


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