Easy Fish Pie

March 13, 2014 (Last Updated: June 29, 2020)
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Fish Pie is a British/Irish standby featuring a creamy, smoky fish stew topped with a mashed potato crust. It’s like a seaside rendition of shepherd’s pie! Also called fisherman’s pie by some, it’s comfort in a bowl!

A serving of Irish fish pie in a wide bowl with a blue edge. There is a creamy filling with fish and peas, and a crusty mashed potato topping.

Fish pie is kind of a crossover dish, a bit British but also Irish. It’s similar in this respect to shepherd’s pie or cottage pie, for example. I figure you can call it either British or Irish depending on your mood or where you’re eating it. For the sake of argument I’m going with Irish because it’s the perfect opportunity to make something other than corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day! It seems like as good an excuse as any!

Filling for British fish pie in an oval casserole dish, featuring pink smoked salmon, cod, green peas, and herbs

Recently, I invited a friend of mine over to watch The Fall, a Northern Irish crime drama. It stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. We are both huge Jamie Dornan fans. He was also on Once Upon a Time, and of course plays Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movies.

An oval casserole dish of fish pie with a crusty mashed potato topping

He’s a Northern Irish actor playing a twisted serial killer in this Northern Irish show. Making something Irish/British is apt for our marathon watching of the show. If you haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend it. It’s dark and twisted, but really captivating!

A screenshot of Irish actor Jamie Dornan from the BBC television show The Fall
Jamie Dornan in BBC’s The Fall

What is fish pie?

Fish pie is almost like shepherd’s pie meets a pot pie made with fish. It’s comforting, creamy, flavorful, and a pretty balanced meal. No side dish necessary, expect maybe a light, green salad for freshness. The filling is creamy with a nice brightness from the lemon zest. It’s smoky from the smoked salmon with a nice seafood flavor without being too fishy. The cod is a nice delicate fish choice especially next to the more assertive smoked salmon.

Filling for British fish pie in an oval casserole dish, featuring pink smoked salmon, cod, green peas, and herbs

I would normally think it’s crazy to put cheese anywhere near fish, but I’ve seen this recipe made with a mashed potato topping either with or without cheese. I decided to take the plunge and add some nice Irish cheddar (see the Irish theme here?). It adds a sharpness and richness to the mashed potatoes. Even in conjunction with the fishy filling, it really works. It simply adds more flavor, and more flavor is never a bad thing. Whether you create this fish pie for a St. Patrick’s Day supper or for an Irish-themed television marathon starring a former Calvin Klein model nicknamed “The Golden Torso,” it’s bound to be a whole lot of comfort!

An oval casserole dish topped with mashed potato before baking

Other recipes you may like

An oval casserole dish of fish pie with a crusty mashed potato topping

What are your favorite dishes for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Have you ever tried fish pie before?

Irish fish pie served in a wide ceramic bowl with blue trim

Fish Pie

Victoria
Fish Pie is a British/Irish standby featuring a creamy, smoky fish stew topped with a mashed potato crust. It's like a seaside rendition of shepherd's pie! Also called fisherman's pie by some, it's comfort in a bowl!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine British, Irish
Servings 4 to 6 servings
Calories 422 kcal

Ingredients
  

Topping

  • 2 pounds potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 5 ounces cheddar cheese grated (optional)

Filling

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound white fish fillets such as cod or haddock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup peas fresh or frozen
  • 8 ounces sliced smoked salmon cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Grease a 2-quart baking dish, place it on the foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.
  • To make the topping: put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are tender and drain. Mash the potatoes with the milk, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Adjust seasoning with more salt, if needed. Cover and keep warm until needed.
  • To make the filling: Heat the milk and bay leaf to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cod and poach for about 5 to 7 minutes or until it is cooked through and begins to flake (the time is dependent on the thickness of the fish). Carefully strain out the fish and set aside, breaking it up into large bite-size pieces. Discard the bay leaves, but reserve the hot milk.
  • In a large pot add the butter or olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Mix in the flour and stir to coat all of the onions with it. After another minute, gently begin whisking in the hot milk (from poaching the fish). Whisk until smooth and then simmer for about 5 minutes or until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Stir in the peas, parsley, and lemon zest. Fold in the smoked salmon and poached cod gently, then pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Carefully top with the mashed potatoes, sealing in all the edges first (to prevent the filling from bubbling over the edges too much) and then cover the remaining filling with the remaining mashed potatoes. Use a fork to draw lines over the mashed potato topping to give it texture.
  • Bake the fish pie for 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is bubbling (it may bubble out of some of the edges) and the topping starts to brown. At this point, you can broil the fish pie for an addition few minutes to brown it more, if desired. Serve immediately in wide individual bowls.

Notes & Nutrition

Servings 6.0 * calories 422 * Total Fat 18 g * Saturated Fat 9 g * Monounsaturated Fat 3 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 48 mg * Sodium 801 mg * Potassium 718 mg * Total Carbohydrate 34 g * Dietary Fiber 5 g * Sugars 7 g * Protein 34 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*
A photo collage of fish pie. Top photo is an oval casserole dish with fish pie filling (salmon, cod, peas, and herbs in a creamy sauce); bottom photo is baked fish pie with crusty mashed potato topping.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary Kabakian
    March 3, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    5 stars
    Fish Pie? Wow! Something new to try and enjoy!

  • Reply
    Mary Kabakian
    March 13, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    5 stars
    OMG, this is to die for. Being a fish lover in general, I absolutely love this idea for fish.

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