Coley Fish Pie with puff pastry and vegetables
Second on my list for Neptune's Bounty, my mission to try 52 different species of seafood over 52 weeks, is another member of the cod family, Coley (Pollachius virens), also known as Saithe. Every week I'm enjoying a species of fish or shellfish that isn't one of the main varieties eaten in the UK (cod, tuna, haddock, prawns and salmon - I really need an acronym for those!), to try and highlight underused species of seafish that we should all be eating more of for a sustainable future.
Following on from last week's hake, coley is another versatile white, round fish, though it looks a slightly unappetising shade of grey before being cooked. Don't let that put you off though as it's a good value species with a decent flavour. It is versatile but I prefer to use it in things like stews, curries, fishcakes or pies like the fish pie below. A bit like meat, I often like to use the equivalent of more expensive cuts (cod, wild salmon etc) for things like pan fried fillets and slightly fancier recipes, and keep some cheaper varieties like this for things like all-in-one dishes. Think using less expensive cuts of lamb like shoulder or neck in slow cooking and casseroles, and keeping things like a leg or rack of lamb for a roast.
Taste isn't something that needs to be scrimped on though with coley (or any cheaper species for that matter), as seen in the fish pie recipe below. Key with the recipe is getting a good flavour from all the elements, the fish, veg, sauce and the pastry. You can get ahead by preparing the vegetables and white sauce the day beforehand and keeping in the fridge. I didn't grow up with a huge family tradition of fish pie and rarely ate it before my thirties, but I like this version as you get all the vegetables within the dish so you don't need to prepare anything else. Don't be parsimonious with the seasoning, it does need salt and pepper and a good handful of parsley wouldn't go amiss. The exception for this is for feeding to babies, I put aside a bit of the fish and vegetables, steam till cooked and blitz with milk or yoghurt for a baby version without the salt.
A huge thank you to everyone who has commented on social media or got in touch about Neptune's Bounty; I've been thrilled by all the good feedback I've had even at this early stage, and delighted to hear and learn more about how you are enjoying alternative species of fish.
Recipe: Coley Fish Pie with puff pastry and vegetables
250g coley fillet, skinned
3 smallish potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
3 smallish carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced
Half a pint milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
2tbsp plain flour
1 leek, washed and sliced
Knob of butter for the leeks
Teacup of frozen peas, defrosted in hot water
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
100g puff pastry (ready made is fine!!)
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Filleting knife (if the coley needs skinning)
Pie dish (for two people)
Small sharp knife
Pastry cutter (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Put the potatoes and carrots in the medium saucepan and parboil for 10 minutes, then drain.
- Make the white sauce by melting the butter in the small saucepan. Add the flour and stir over a low heat for a few minutes. Add the milk bit by bit till all the milk is incorporated into the flour mixture and the sauce is thickened. Season well.
- Heat the knob of butter in the saucepan and fry the leeks for a few minutes to soften.
- Slice the coley into 1 inch chunks and put in the bottom of the pie dish. Top with all the veg and the chopped parsley. Pour over the white sauce.
- Roll out the puff pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Cover the pie dish, crimping well along the edges. Top with any pastry cutter decorations if required. Brush with beaten egg and pierce a few times with a knife.
- Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, till the pastry is golden brown.
What else can you do with coley?
- Mix with leftover mash potatoes, seasoning and green veg for easy fish cakes
- Add to a fish stew or curry to bulk up a more expensive seafood
- Use up scraps of coley by coating in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, baking and serving as goujons with spicy mayo or in a fishmonger sandwich with tartare sauce
Even more ideas...