Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Spicy Scottish Whiting Puff Pastry Fish Pies

Mini spicy fish pies are served with carrots, parsnips and peas

A traditional British fish pie is usually a combination of different types of fish in a bechemel sauce, topped with mashed potato. While I love fish pies of that type, I wanted here to create something a little bit different with the second freshly caught whiting I had been kindly given. I began therefore by having a look through my cupboards and when I came across a small can of tomatoes and the remainder of the Mexican fajitas spice which I used to prepare the steak bridie I featured on this blog last week, the beginnings of this idea were formed.

Starting to prepare spicy sauce for fish pie

Ingredients (Serves Two)

8 ounce can of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
Handful of mixed sliced bell peppers (capsicums)
1 teaspoon fajitas spice mix
2 medium whiting fillets, skinned
1/2 pound premade puff pastry
Flour for dusting rolling surface and pin
Butter for greasing ramekins plus extra for cooked carrots and parsnips
Beaten egg for glazing
2 medium carrots
2 medium parsnips
3 or 4 tablespoons frozen peas
Generous pinch ground nutmeg

Chopped whiting is added to spicy tomato sauce


Pour the tomatoes in to a small to medium saucepan and add the pepper slices and fajitas spice. Stir well and heat until the mixture reaches a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer as gently as possible for ten to fifteen minutes - stirring frequently - until a lush, thick sauce is formed.
Whiting in spicy sauce is left to cool completely

Roughly chop the whiting fillets and stir carefully through the sauce. Cover and leave to cool completely.

Buying premade puff pastry is much quicker and easier than making your own

Start your oven preheating to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Although this pastry will make four small pies, I cut it in half and cut the pie cases and lids two at a time. I just feel it makes it easier. In order to get the right size of circles, you will need to measure your ramekins and find appropriate "templates" in your kitchen supplies. I found this bowl was ideal for cutting cases that allowed a bit of an overhang all the way around the edges for crimping.

Cutting the cases for the spicy whiting fish pieces

In a similar way, this drinking glass was the perfect size for cutting lids.

Cutting the lids for the pies

The ramekins should be carefully and evenly greased inside with butter.

Ramekins are greased with butter before the pies are assembled

Carefully place a case circle in to each ramekin. Take your time and ensure it fits snugly, with an even overhang all the way around.
Pie cases are carefully fitted in to ramekins

Take a teaspoon and add some of the cooled spicy whiting mix to the ramekins but do not overfill (see below).

Spicy whiting mix is spooned in to pies

Sit the lids on top and lightly eggwash.

Lids are added to filled pie cases

Crimp the edges and eggwash the crimps. Cut a small vent in the centre of each pie with the point of a sharp knife and sit the ramekins on a roasting tray.

Pies are crimped, glazed and ready for the oven

Cook the pies in the oven for thirty to thrity-five minutes until golden. Leave them on the tray for a few minutes to cool slightly.

Spicy whiting fish pies removed from the oven

Scrub, top and tail the carrots and parsnips. You could peel them if you wish but I didn't. The skin contains texture and vitamins. Roughly chop to evenly sized pieces and add to a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a simmer for about fifteen minutes or until just softened.

Chopped carrots and parsnips ready for boiling

Use oven gloves/mitts and carefully tip the pies out of the ramekins, loosening them around the edges with a blunt knife if necessary. Sit them on a wire rack to rest. They will stay warm while your vegetables cook.

Spicy whiting fish pies are rested on a wire rack

The frozen peas should be added to a pot of boiling water for two or three minutes.

Frozen peas are added to boiling water

Drain the carrots and parsnips well and return to the empty pot. Add some butter and the nutmeg and stir carefully to ensure even coating.

Butter and nutmeg is added to drained parsnips and carrots

Plate two pies and half the carrots and parsnips on each of two serving plates.

Spicy whiting pies are plated with carrots and parsnips

Drain the peas and add them to the plates last of all.

Tucking in to spicy whiting fish pies and assorted veg

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