Fish & oyster pot pie
- 500g firm fish fillets, skin and bones removed (eg ling or other cod)
- 12–15 fresh oysters, on shell or bottled
- 2 cups mixed vegetables, diced into 1cm cubes (eg leeks or onions, celery, potatoes, white cabbage, fennel bulbs)
- 100g streaky bacon, optional
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (eg tarragon, parsley, thyme)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1–2 sheet puff pastry
- 2 tablespoons butter, extra
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 lemons (one for juicing, the other cut into wedges to serve)
This recipe is inspired by the large pot pies chef Jared Ingersoll served at his Farm to Table Dinner at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum in November 2013. It is typical fare that harbourside colonists might have enjoyed. It is a very forgiving recipe; you can use any combination of vegetables or seafood that you have at hand. If you don't like oysters, replace with prawns or scallops, or another type of fish – a white flesh and a pink flesh, for example. Not everyone had the luxury of an oven, but most colonists had a pot, so pot-style pies were a popular alternative to traditional pies. A dumpling-style dough was often used to form a crust instead of more delicate baked pastry. This recipe, however, uses pastry and is baked in the oven.
|Cut the fish fillets into large bite-sized pieces (they will shrink as they cook). Remove the oysters from their shells, retaining any liquor. If using bottled oysters, strain the liquor and reserve it for the pie (optional). Refrigerate the seafood while you prepare the rest of the filling.
|In a large saucepan, gently sauté the vegetables and bacon, if using, in two tablespoons of butter for about 10–15 minutes, or until they are fragrant and starting to soften. Add the herbs, mace, white pepper and 3 cups water, and simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked but still firm. Drain the vegetables and set aside, reserving 2 cups of the liquid. Add salt to taste.
|Preheat oven according to instructions on pastry packaging. Cut the pastry to the required size, using the rim of your pie dish or dishes as a guide. Place the pastry on baking paper, prick a few holes in it with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife, and bake in the oven until golden (refer to packaging for instructions). Remove and place on a wire rack to prevent the pastry from softening. Leave the oven on.
|To assemble the pies
|Melt the extra two tablespoons of butter in a deep saucepan. Add the drained vegetables and two tablespoons flour, stirring through the butter until the flour starts to thicken. Add the reserved stock a little at a time, stirring through until a thickish sauce forms. Add 1/2 cup of the oyster liquor, if using, and enough water to form a light sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are heated through.
Meanwhile, prepare the seafood for the pie. Place the fish and oysters on the base of a baking dish, or divide among individual pots. Spoon the hot vegetables and sauce over the seafood, along with the juice of one lemon, and very gently fold through, being careful not to break the fish pieces.
Cover with the prepared pastry top and bake in the oven for 5 minutes so the seafood cooks through in the hot vegetable mixture. Serve with lemon wedges.