It took me a while to come around to English cuisine. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road in England, and the food at English rest stops and gas stations did not paint a pretty picture of what English food tastes like. Have you ever eaten at a Road Chef? Don’t, you’ll just get depressed. It’s only now that I’ve spent more time eating in England with food-loving friends that I’ve tasted first-hand how amazing English cuisine can be.
When done well, English food is truly some of the best. Treacle pudding? Roasted pork belly? Cauliflower cheese, made with good crumbly English cheddar? Oh my. And the idea of making savory pies by sticking rich meat and vegetable fillings into pastry crust is just brilliant.
Plus English food is colorfully (if not always appetizingly named). It’s hard to imagine that dishes like bubble and squeak, bangers and mash, Eaton mess, mushy peas, or even clotted cream taste good, but they do. But it’s still a national joke that England’s official dish is curry.
Here is a recipe for a light and savory fish pie that packs delicate flavor without being drowned in rich sauce. To bring it home, serve this with dill and chive crème fraîche or sour cream and lemon.
One note: you can put this filling inside a pastry crust, like we did, or inside frozen puff pastry sheets as the original recipe calls for. And when I made this for my English friends, we divided it into two smaller dishes. The first we ate immediately, but the second we stuck in the fridge to bake the next day. The leftovers from the first pie made for a perfect next day’s lunch, and we heard reports that the second pie came out great when they baked it for dinner, with no harm to the crust.
Another tip: ask the salesperson to remove the skin for you when you purchase your fish. It will save you a lot of time and hassle!
Salmon, Cod, and Leek Pie
- 4 large leeks, halved and cut into 1” pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 lb. skinned, de-boned salmon fillet, cut into 1” cubes
- 1 lb. skinned, de-boned cod fillet, cut into 1” cubes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cut white and pale-green parts of leeks crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. In a bowl of cold water wash leeks well and lift from water into a colander to drain. Pat leeks dry. In a large skillet cook leeks in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, about 12 minutes, and cool. Add fish, dill, zest, salt, and pepper to skillet, cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until flavors are well combined. Place filling in prepared pastry crust, cover, and bake at 375F until crust is golden-brown and fish is cooked through, or 20-30 minutes.