Tag: fish

Super Simple British Fish Pie

NOTE: This is an older recipe, of which I cannot retrace when I originally posted it before the hack of my old domain name.

When I was a little kid I spent years an inordinate number of years ordering off the ‘kids menu’, usually compiled of fries and some type of ‘chicken’ or other heavily processed meat. Until one night, in France when I had just hit puberty, I saw a very dainty French lady daintily deconstruction a whole trout.

Give me the whole damned fish

I ordered the same and copied her every move and then spent years ordering whatever fish was on the menu. Needless to say I got very excited when I discovered the UK not only had fish cakes, but also fish pie! Fish in a creamy sauce, topped with mashed potatoes? I’m in!

Of course I’ve matured a little since then and now order whatever tickles my pickle. In the mean time fish pie has become one of my favorite winter warmers. It’s carby, creamy and fishy and you can slap it together in endless variations.

It’s important to keep in mind virtually all the ingredients for the filling in my recipe are optional. Just make sure to switch them out for equal quantities if you do.

A word on prawns

I used to make this dish with prawns, but there are a lot of problems with how prawns are farmed. Prawn farming produces huge quantities of greenhouse gases and support abusive labor practices. So check where your prawns are from and how they are produced or omit them al together.

An oven dish of fish pie with a glass of white wine and two plates of fish pie

Super easy classic British fish pie for two

Dorothy Porker
A slap dash and filling kind of fish pie for cold weeknights and long weekends for two.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine British
Servings 2


  • Pot
  • Oven proof dish
  • Oven
  • Small saucepan
  • Potato masher


  • 6 large potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 T - 15 gr butter
  • 1 T - 15 gr plain flour
  • 1/2 c - 120 ml white wine
  • 1 c - 250 ml milk or cream
  • 1 c - 125 gr cheese grated, I like a mixture of Parmesan and Dutch demi-mature cheese
  • 1 filet fish of choice, cut into bite sized chunks, I prefer salmon
  • 1 c - 150 gr mussels optional, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 c - 75 gr baby carrots roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c - 75 gr peas or other firm bite size green, fresh or frozen
  • 1 small bunch parsley finely chopped
  • 1 T - 15 gr unsalted butter
  • splash milk
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 200° C/ 400° F.
  • Cook 6 peeled and cut potatoes for 15 minutes in a large pot in ample salted water until tender.

Make the sauce

  • In the mean time, to make the sauce: melt 1 T - 15 gr of butter in a small saucepan. Once the butter has melted, add 1 T - 15 gr of plain flour and stir vigorously until the butter and flour have come together and start letting go of the bottom of the pan. This should take 2-4 minutes or so.
  • Keep stirring as you add in 1/2 c - 120 ml wine and 1 c - 250 ml of milk. Now keep stirring on a medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken, before adding 1 c - 125 gr of grated cheese and stir until fully melted.
  • Finish the sauce by seasoning it with pepper and salt, tasting until the sauce is seasoned to your liking, and set aside as you assemble your fish pie.

Assemble the pie

  • Take an oven proof dish and scatter around the 1 filet of fish in chunks, 1 c - 150 gr of mussels, 1/2 c - 75 gr of baby carrots, 1/2 c - 75 gr of greens and finely chopped bunch of parsley, or whatever you're using. You want to distribute everything evenly so no matter where you stick your spoon you will get a good mix of things in the end.
  • Poor the sauce over the fish and veg.
  • Mash the cooked potatoes to your favored consistency with another 1 T - 15 gr of butter, a splash of milk and plenty of pepper and salt. Taste until the mash is to your liking and then spread the mash out across the fish. You can be slap dash or pretty with it, whatever works for you.
  • Finish your fish pie by baking it in your preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the top is nice and golden brown and the sauce is oozing out and aggressively bubbling up the side.


I like my fish pie with salmon and mussels, carrots and a rando green but you can of course have this with whichever fish/ veg combo you have available to you. I do recommend firmer fish so it doesn't fall apart completely and offsets the mush that is the mash and sauce combination.
Of course you're also free to add more or less cheese and omit the wine. Any alcohol from the wine will evaporate and it does add a lot of flavor to the dish so if you can avoid skipping the wine, don't skip the wine.

How long does the fish pie keep?

If you eat half of this dish one day, cover the oven dish and store it in the fridge and then reheat it in the oven at 175° C/ 350° F for 10-15 minutes or so the next, that's fine. It won't keep for much longer and is not suitable for freezing.

A note on prawns

There are a lot of problems with how prawns are farmed. Prawn farming produces huge quantities of greenhouse gases and support abusive labor practices. So check where your prawn are from and how they are produced or omit them al together.
Keyword british, easy fish, fish, fish pie, fish recipe

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Super Easy British Fishcake Recipe

Fishcakes and Ready Steady Cook marked the beginning of my love affair with British food. They combine two of my favorite things: fish and potato. Fried in ample butter, nothing can really go wrong with this one for me.

When I made fish cakes for the first time myself, I followed a Nigel Slater recipe and used fresh fish. This seemed fancy and correct. But then one day I was broke and used tinned fish instead. Turns out those are a thousand times more delicious than fresh fish fishcakes.

I love nothing more than money saved and taste buds pleased, so here is my very basic fishcake recipe that you can make from stuff that you’ll probably have on hand.

What do I eat with fishcakes?

I claim this is a recipe for two but generally I eat this by myself with some butterhead lettuce and a light vinaigrette made with olive oil and white wine or cider vinegar, some salt and pepper. You don’t really need much more.

Instead of the below tarragon sauce a mayo on the sharper end of the spectrum would also do nicely.

Variations on fishcake

You can also make these with fresh fish, as mentioned. Choose a slightly firmer but not too fatty fish, like cod or salmon. Be sure to pick a fish that is ASC- or MSC-certified.

Super Easy British Fishcake Recipe

Dorothy Porker
This is a recipe for super quick, easy and delicious fishcakes made with ingredients you probably have laying around.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Brunch, Lunch, Main course, Party snack, Snack
Cuisine British, English
Servings 2


  • Potato peeler
  • Pan
  • Sieve
  • Large bowl
  • Masher
  • Frying pan


For the fishcakes

  • 7 oz - 213 gr fish roughly one tin - I use tuna or salmon, check for ASC- or MSC-certified fish
  • 3 medium sized potatoes you want roughly the same weight as the fish
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • pinch cayenne optional
  • 1/4 c - 50 gr all purpose flour
  • 1 pat butter

For the sauce, optional - mayo or store bought sauces are also nice

  • 1 pat butter
  • 1/4 c - 50 ml white wine
  • 1 c - 250 ml cream
  • 1 small bunch tarragon stem removed
  • 1 clove garlic optional
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped, optional


To make the fishcakes

  • Peel and roughly cut 3 potatoes into large chunks. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until completely tender. You can test this by sticking a fork in the potatoes as they cook, it should slide right through.
  • In the meantime: drain one 7 oz - 213 gr tin of fish. Flake to your desired consistency, I like mine kind of chunky. Season the fish with pinches of pepper, salt and cayenne (if using) and set aside in a large bowl.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash them to your desired consistency in the pan. I like mine with a remnant of chunkiness.
  • Add the potatoes to the fish mixture and mix together. Again: to your desired consistency. I like there to be chunks of fish and potato left, so it's not so much of a coherent mush but more of a textured affair. I'm not judging you coherent mush people however.
  • Melt some butter in a hot skillet or (non-stick) frying pan.
  • Form your potato-fish mixture into 4 patties, they don't need to be a super nice shape unless that's your thing. Lightly dust them with a bit of all-purpose flour and fry until golden in the butter.

To make the sauce, optional - mayo or store bought sauces are also nice

  • After frying off the fishcakes, remove from the pan and melt some more butter into the pan.
  • Add 1/4 c - 50 ml of wine and 1 c - 250 ml of cream. Let it come to a nice bubble and let it go until the sauce thickens ever so slightly. Finish with tarragon leaves, salt and pepper.
  • You can gussy this sauce up further by glazing off a small helping of finely chopped shallots and garlic but let's not complicate things unless we want to ey?


The fish cakes keep for up to 3 days unfried or fried in the fridge and can be (re)heated in a frying pan with butter (or oil if they've already be fried). 
Keyword canned food, easy fish, fish, fish cakes, fish recipe, potato cakes, potato recipe, seafood, tinned food

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Super Easy Seafood Risotto

Last week I shared a recipe for making classic shellfish stock with you. This week I am using that stock to make a pretty bomb ass seafood risotto.

Variations on seafood risotto

I used prawns for my first batch, which leaves you with more heads, which equals more stock, which equals more risotto. But you can also use the stock to make a risotto with plane old fish, like I did for my second batch, though I can’t recommend fattier fish like mackerel for this. Or have yours mussels, lobster, or whatever you fancy in the seafood department.

You can also make this using store bought stock, though I’d recommend going for a fancier liquid brand rather than cubes as those tends to be waaaaaaaaaaaay too salty for risotto making.

I like to add green veggies to mine, like frozen or fresh peas or some grilled asparagus. But you do you. I think some grilled fennel would also be dope.

The ingredients for super easy seafood risotto

To cheese or not to cheese

A lot of people think Parmesan or some kind of cheese is essential to making your risotto nice and gooey, but if you’ve stirred your risotto well enough and in doing so have released plenty of starches from the rice, you should end up with a gooey, unctuous risotto either way.

A word on prawns

I used to make this dish with prawns, but there are a lot of problems with how prawns are farmed. Prawn farming produces huge quantities of greenhouse gases and is largely founded on abusive labor practices. So check where your prawns are from and how they are produced or omit them al together.

Super Easy Seafood Risotto

Dorothy Porker
Use my shellfish stock to make this deeply flavorful seafood risotto. You can add whatever seafood and veggies you like to it.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Instant Pot 15 mins
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment
  • Large pot for holding stock
  • Ladle
  • Small saucepan for risotto
  • Wooden spoon


For the asparagus, optional

  • 1/2 bunch green asparagus or other veg to taste
  • 1 T - 15 ml olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 t - 5 gr za'atar optional
  • juice of 1/2 lemon optional
  • 2-3 cloves garlic smashed, optional

For the risotto

  • 2 c - 500 ml (shell)fish stock home-made or store bought, avoid cubes in this case
  • 1/2 c - 100 gr Arborio rice some say other rice variaties work as well, I'm not so sure
  • 2 T - 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 T - 15 gr butter
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small shallots peeled and finely chopped, 1/2 an onion will also do nicely
  • 10 oz - 300 gr seafood of choice
  • 1 c - 125 gr peas frozen or fresh, or your veg of choice
  • 3/4+1/4 c - 100 + 25 gr Parmesan grated, optional
  • pinch salt
  • pinch white pepper


Bake the asparagus, if using

  • Preheat an oven at 350° F/ 175° C.
  • Snap the bottoms off your 1/2 bunch of asparagus. They will snap roughly where their bottoms are too coarse for eating.
  • Spread asparagus over a pre-lined baking sheet, cover lightly in olive oil, salt and pepper and whatever spice you like (my go-to is za'atar) and roast for 25-35 mins until crisp at the edges. This method is also suitable for broccoli, if that's your thing. You can liven it up a bit more with a squeeze of lemon juice and 2-3 smashed garlic cloves as well if you like.

To make the seafood risotto

  • Preheat 2 c - 500 ml of (shell)fish stock in a large pot. It should be warmed through but not boiling. Be sure to keep it next to the pan you are cooking your risotto in, with a good sized ladle for easy transfer.
  • In a saucepan, melt 2 T - 30 gr of butter and 1 T - 15 ml of olive oil together over a medium low heat.
  • Add 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic and 2 finely chopped small shallots and saute gently until they start to become translucent and soft, avoiding getting any color on them as this will make the garlic bitter.
  • Now add 1/2 c - 100 gr of rice and stir continuously for 5 minutes or so, coating the rice in the fats until they also get a transparent sheen to them. Skipping this step may result in your rice not taking up enough of the liquids to cook in time, so be sure to follow this step properly or you’ll be very upset later.
  • Once 5 minutes of vigorous stirring have passed, add your first ladle of stock to the rice. Keep stirring vigorously until all the liquid has either been absorbed by the rice or evaporated into thin air.
  • Add your second ladle of stock, stir until absorbed. And so on and so forth, until roughly 20 minutes have passed and all your stock has been added to and absorbed by the rice.
  • When to add your seafood will depend on the kind of seafood you’re using. Precooked prawns, mussels and the like can be added at the very last minute, just to heat them through. Frozen fish should be thawed and flaked before use and can also be added in at the last minute. Anything bigger you will probably want to pre-cook and serve it separately so you have a better handle on whether it’s cooked through or not.
  • In the final 2-3 minutes add your peas and 3/4 c of parmesan, if using.
  • Season to taste before serving. There is a lot of salt in the stock already, so it may not need any more. Pepper however is always a good idea. Top with the asparagus and the remainder of the Parmesan if using.

To make seafood risotto in an Instant Pot

  • Follow steps 2 to 3 from the previous section, using the saute function of your Instant Pot.
  • Add 2 c - 500 ml of warm stock and 1/2 c - 100 gr of rice and stir.
  • Seal your Instant Pot and set the timer for the pressure cooking function to 7 minutes.
  • Use the quick release and stir in pre-cooked seafood, vegetables and Parmesan cheese.


Risotto doesn't really reheat very well.
If you do have left-overs keep them in a closed container for up to 3 days, roll the cooled down risotto into balls, perhaps filling them with a small helping of mozzarella, coating them in flour, egg and bread crumbs before deep frying them to make arancini. 
Keyword Italian food, risotto, seafood

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Classic Shellfish Stock

I’m trying to be more fastidious with my scraps, so after I’d grilled a bunch of prawns recently, I set the shells aside in my freezer to make stock. I also want to make better use of the unreasonable amount of cookbooks that I own, so when I was in the mood for risotto earlier this week, I stuck my nose into a stack of books to find advice on making stock.

Flavor makers for classic seafood stock

Fish stock basics according to Harold McGee and Escoffier

Most of my books were more focused on making fish stock, and the main advice seems to kind of be: don’t.

As Harold McGee explains it, you don’t add fish to your stock until the very end. Fish collagen has such a low melting point you can extract it into the broth at a very low temperature in a very short time. Cook it any longer and your broth will turn murky from the calcium dissolving from the fish bones. So what both he and Escoffier recommend is making a so-called court-bouillon (a very quick and basic broth) and then adding the fish once it’s cooled down to 80 degrees Celsius or so before briefly poaching the fish.

Where McGee and Escoffier differ, is that the former advises you to add the peppercorns at the very end, to avoid bitterness, while the latter is more of a ‘chuck it all in there’ kinda guy.

Save your prawn shells and heads to make a great seafood stock

Shellfish stock according to Fergus Henderson

But I didn’t even have any fish bones to begin with. I went to my market to find som but I get there too early and had zero patience. So I decided to go for it anyway, with the remains of 10 or so large prawn and a few pointers from the legendary Fergus Henderson. He basically recommends you smash your shells before use. So that’s what I did. And the result was rather wonderful.

The below will make you about a liter of shellfish stock. It combines Escoffier’s recipe for a white wine court-bouillon, McGee’s insights into when to add the peppercorns and Fergus’ advice on how to treat a shell to make a really nice stock. He does also add tomatoes, but I was like nah. I’ll let you know how I got on with my risotto next week.

A word on prawns

I used to make this dish with just any old prawns. But there are a lot of problems with how prawns are farmed. Prawn farming produces huge quantities of greenhouse gases and support abusive labor practices. So check where your prawns are from and how they are produced. If you can’t find any sustainably sources and humanly farmed prawns consider not making this recipe at all.

A pint of shellfish stock in a Pyrex measuring cup with the head of a prawn balancing on the rim

Classic shellfish stock - McGee, Escoffier and Henderson

Dorothy Porker
A spectacular, well-researched punchy shellfish stock, based on the findings of food legends Harold McGee, Escoffier and Fergus Henderson.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Supplies
Cuisine English, French
Servings 1 liter


  • Plastic bag
  • Rolling Pin
  • Large pot with lid
  • Fine sieve


  • remains of 20 large prawns or similar, less won't do
  • 2 T - 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 oz - 20 gr carrot finely diced- fennel is also nice
  • 1 oz - 20 gr onion finely diced
  • 4 c - 1 liter water
  • 1/4 c - 50 ml white wine
  • 1 oz - 20 gr parsley stems and leaves
  • 1 rind of Parmesan optional, you can save rinds in the freezer as well
  • 2 t - 10 gr salt
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 4 white peppercorns black peppercorns will work too


A note on my leftovers

  • My prawn shells were pre-cooked. I’d gotten fresh large prawns the week prior, marinated them briefly in olive oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, parsley and some chipotle flakes before grilling them for about 2-3 minutes on each side and digging in. All this added additional flavor and heat.

To make classic shellfish stock

  • Place your shellfish remains in a bag and smash them with a rolling pin. You can omit the bag, but even with the bag there was stuff flying everywhere, so use a bag.
  • Heat a 2 T - 30 ml of olive oil in a large pot. Add 1 oz - 20 gr of finely chopped carrot and onion each and cook on a low heat until softened but not browned.
  • Now add the smashed prawn shells and stir until you, as Fergus calls it, “Smell splendid shellfish things.”
  • Add 4 c - 1 l of water, 1/4 c - 50 ml wine, 1 ounce - 20 gr of parsley, the Parmesan rind (if using), 2 t - 10 gr salt and 1/2 a bay leaf, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for 1 ½-2 hours, lid off. Add 4 white peppercorns 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  • Strain your stock through a fine sieve, making sure you crush every last drop of liquid out of your shells and veggies before discarding them.


Shellfish stock keeps for about 4-6 months in the freezer.
If you want to be even more frugal with your leftovers, be sure to save any leftover cubed carrot and onion in your freezer, which is something I forgot.
UPDATE (Augustus 13th 2019): After sharing this recipe local hero Noah Tucker commented that white peppercorn works slightly better with fish and shellfish so I've adjusted the recipe accordingly.
Keyword bouillon, broth, leftovers, shellfish, stock

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Kothmiratil Macchi – Indian Fried Fish

The first book I got in the awesome Phaidon range of national classics was India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant. I thought I’d try and get to know the Indian kitchen better. But it’s so vast and diverse, and the book offers so many recipes that I’ve had a hard time figuring out where to begin.

Except for this one recipe.

Raw anchovies with the ingredients for kothmiratil macchi

Kothmiratil macchi

It’s called kothmiratil macchi, a coastal dish that’s prepared with herring or whitebait in the book. I’ve had a love affair with small fried fish ever since my first trip to Spain at 19. So I just had to make this. I’ve since made it over and over again.

Anchovies dissected from whole to kothmiratil macchi

Whitebait versus anchovies

It’s hard to find whitebait here (and since it’s baby fish it’s not very sustainable) so I generally use fresh anchovies for this. Please do check with your fish monger how they’ve been caught, because this will affect how sustainable they are.

A plate of kothmiratil macchi, Indian coriander fried fish

Because they’re slightly too big to get a good crisp on the heads and innards before the cilantro and other spices turn bitter I prefer cleaning them myself. The more you get the more work this is, but in my opinion the fiddle is totally worth the hassle.

What do you have with Indian coriander fried fish?

These are so good I tend to have them with just some plain rice and slices of cucumber and nothing else.

Sometimes I’ll get a little disrespectful and have them with tzatziki. The freshness meshes really well with the fried fish. To make it less disrespectful I reckon a cucumber raita would also work and be more appropriate.

A plate of kothmiratil macchi, Indian coriander fried fish

Kothmiratil Macchi - Indian coriander fried fish

Dorothy Porker
These salty, earthy, umami-loaded fried anchovies are the tiny flavor bombs you deserve after the work you've put in to make them.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main course, Party snack, Side dish, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2


  • Sharp knife
  • Food processor
  • Large skillet or frying pan
  • Paper towels


  • 15 oz - 500 gr whitebait or anchovies
  • 1 t - 5 gr ground turmeric
  • 1 t - 5 ml lime juice
  • 1 t - 5 gr sugar
  • 1 t - 5 ml water
  • big bunch coriander coarsely chopped
  • 2-4 green bird's eye chilies seeds and white pith removed
  • 1" - 2 cm piece of ginger peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
  • 5 oz - 150 gr rice flour
  • sunflower oil for shallow frying
  • salt
  • 2 limes cut into wedges


  • Clean the fish. You can do this by gently twisting the head right behind the gills and then pulling gently up and back, before pushing the innards out with your thumb and gently pulling out the spine, as shown in the video below.
  • Once the fish is cleaned, use a sharp knife to score the fish ever so gently on both sides.
  • Mix together 1 t - 5 gr of turmeric, 1 t - 5 gr of sugar, 1 t - 5 gr of lime juice and 1 t - 5 gr of water to make a paste. Gently rub the paste into the fish and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Note: if you exceed this time the lime will cook the fish.
  • In the meantime, make a spice paste by mixing together a bunch of coriander, 4 green bird's eye chilies, 1" - 2 cm's of peeled ginger and 4 garlic cloves in a food processor. You can add a few tablespoons of water to get it to smooth out a little further.
  • Spread the coriander-paste evenly over the fish and let sit for another 15 minutes.
  • Preheat your oil for shallow-frying in a large skillet or frying pan.
  • Gently coat the fish in rice flour and fry in batches until crisp. Depending on the size of your fish this should take 5-10 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and finish off with a nice helping of salt. Serve with lime wedges for added oomph.


Once fried this fish will keep for 1 day in the fridge and can be reheated in a hot oven at roughly 350° F/ 175° C in 10-15 minutes.
Keyword anchovies, cookbook recipe, fish, indian recipe, pushpesh pant, seafood, white bait

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