The Family Fish Pie
I hated Fish Pie growing up. On the days that I came home from school, tired after an hour long bus ride on bumpy country roads, and smelled a fish pie baking as soon as I walked in the door…my stomach turned. The fish smell was so overpowering and back then, I was a kid who just didn’t like anything to do with fish. I hated ice fishing; standing over an open hole in the middle of a freezing lake with no shelter from the wind and hoping for a bite was entirely pointless to me. I think the only good thing about ice fishing back in those days was that my parents would always stop at the store for snacks, which meant a bag of chips and some licorice. Back in those days, that was a real treat.
I despised the taste (and smell) of ‘fishy fish’ and I would always ask my dad if the fish was going to be ‘fishy’. As if he would know! I eventually learned that it was Jack fish (or Northern Pike) that was the ‘fishy’ tasting fish and White fish was more mild but had tiny, delicate bones. Oh, the bones!! I hated those too.
Now that I’m an adult, I love fish. Go figure. What’s strangest of all, is that I actually crave my mom’s fish pie. I’ve been wanting to make it for a while but put it off because the first ingredient needed for fish pie is canned fish. I’m not talking canned salmon (though you can use it in a pinch) but fresh caught fish, preserved in jars with a bit of vinegar, herbs, and tomato. When I asked my mom for the recipe, she pointed me in the direction of the family cookbook which contained the recipes for both the canned fish and the fish pie. I also discovered that my Grandma was the original author of this recipe (not my mom) and that it was, essentially, a quiche. I love it. I love that my Grandma invented quiche!!
My parents thought I was silly for buying fresh fish (they told me to buy canned salmon), then canning it just to make this recipe but I really wanted to go as close to the original recipe as I could. I bought a wild Steelhead Trout and sliced it up. One large fillet ended up filling 3 500 ml jars.
- 1 large filet of Steelhead Trout
- 3 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup passata
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3/4 cup vinegar; divided into 3 amounts of 1/4 cup
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- Cut filet into 2 inch slices.
- Sterilize 3 500 ml jars in 220 F oven in a pan containing an inch of water. Heat lids in a pot of boiling water.
- Mix salt, garlic, and passata together.
- Place fish in hot jars, divide passata evenly between the three jars.
- Add 1/4 cup vinegar to EACH jar.
- Place 2 sprigs fresh thyme in each jar. Cover and process.
Hot Water Bath Processing – Place hot jars on the rack of a canner filled with boiling water. Lower the rack and ensure the water is deep enough to cover the jars. Process for 2 hours. NOTE: The recipe says to do this for 5 hours. I think that’s a bit ridiculous, however, I do know that hot water processing is NOT recommended for meat or fish. Just because my Grandma and mom did it (and we didn’t die) doesn’t mean that it is 100% safe. For that, you need a pressure canner.
Pressure Canning – Process at 10 lbs pressure for two hours. I really have no idea HOW, that’s just what the recipe says.
- pastry for single pie crust recipe here
- 500 ml jar canned fish
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion; diced
- 2 tbsp cream
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
OR yes, you can use fish from a can. I recommend you purchase the best canned salmon as possible.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F
- Roll out pastry and arrange in a 9 inch pie plate.
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add diced onions and sweat them until they are translucent.
- In a small bowl, beat eggs with 1/2 cup of the saved juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drain fish, saving the juice. Break up the fish and scatter over the pastry. Top with sautéed onions.
- Pour egg mixture over all. Sprinkle with fresh thyme
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until it is set and slightly browned.