Before I offer up an explanation of the word Emmet, I managed to burn the top of the pie. In the past (as an ex-perfectionist) this would have got me annoyed, but I found the opposite in fact, I thought well I’ll just have to be careful when I reheat it, when the pie reaches it’s final destination. Anyway a stupido mistake which luckily did not spoil the taste when the pie reached the far end.
Here is a useful article about ovens temperatures which I accidentally found when looking for who it was who invented the fan-assisted/convection oven. In summary ‘ Know Your Oven!’
The Flaky fish pie made it’s journey down to Dorset some 2 hrs and 15 minutes from Surrey, where my father (Ralph) and stepmother (Maureen) live.
Maureen always prepares a great spread for when family come to stay, so I thought it would make a nice change if I bought a main course with me and took the hassle out of it.
And the link to ’emmet’… well emmet is an old english saying for grockle meaning tourist or holidaymaker visiting the West Country.
Grockle was one of the first words my father learnt as he was investigating the history of Dorset. He’s always been a facts man so I thought I would give him a twist.
I love this saying which I just picked up from the article about oven temparatures… Chef Auguste Escoffier said ” a recipe no matter how well composed or researched is no substitute for imagination, creativity and flair”
Here is the original recipe (below) but it would be fair to say that I did deviate from the instructions, as I always do after the first time.
My tweaks and creative bits
1. I used Coley and Haddock (smoked and unsmoked). Coley is cheap and you won’t notice the difference because there are so many other flavours going on in this dish you can avoid the more expensive varieties. I never use Cod as it’s too expensive, but I personally think its questionable on the sustainability front. However make your own mind up check out FishFight.net and Marine Stewardship Council.
2. I always add about a 1/3 more fish than quoted otherwise I feel my diners are a bit hard done by. This means that you’ll used more milk and therefore create more sauce. I prefer the sauce to be thinner in this pie and more of it otherwise, when you come to reheat it, it can be a bit dry, but use your own judgement. Try it the Delia way first, then have a play!
3. I always cook this in a pie dish but top only rather than make it into a parcel. It just means I can cook it almost immediately rather than waiting for the mixture to cool.
Original recipe… Delia Smith
Flaky fish pie (from Delia Smiths Complete Illustrated Cookery Course book) produced in 1978 this book is fantastic.
12oz white fish 300g
1oz butter (25g)
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
4 small gherkins, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 quantity quick flaky pastry (I cheat and buy shop bought pastry but shortly I’m transferring over to making it myself)
1x egg beaten
First place the fish in a medium-sized sauce-pan with just enough milk to cover, bring to the boil cover and simmer gently for about 5-10minutes. Now strain off the milk into a measuring jug and , when the fish is cool enough to handle, flake it into large pieces (discarding all the bones, skin etc)
Next, melt the butter in the same saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes over a medium heat, then gradually add 10fl oz (275 ml) of the milk the fish was cooked in, stirring all the time. Bring the sauce to the boil, simmer gently for 6 minutes, then take the pan off the heat and add the flaked fish, chopped capers, gherkins, parsley, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Cover and leave until the mixture is quite cold.
When you’re ready to cook the pie, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425F (220C and for fan assisted lower) . Roll out the pastry to a 12 inch (30 cm) square, trimming if necessary. Lift the square onto a greased baking sheet, then place the cold fish mixture in the centre. Glaze around the edge of the pastry with a beaten egg, then pull he opposite corners of the pastry to the centre and pinch all the edges together firmly, so you have a square with pinched edges in the shape of a cross. Glaze all over with a beaten egg and decorate with any pastry trimmings. Glaze these too and then bake the pie for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is well risen and golden.