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Giffords Fish Pie
Over 2 hours

A nostalgic memory for me is scraping the innards of a foil tray after finishing a fish pie. What could be better – except maybe adding more shellfish… And just like a Stargazy, we pop something in there that peeks out. We use the catch of the day wherever we happen to be.

Extracted from Giffords Circus Cookbook: Recipes & Stories from a Magical Circus Restaurant by Nell Gifford and Ols Halas (Hardie Grant, £27) Photography: David Loftus

Recipe courtesy of
  • 200g mussels, clams or razor clams, cleaned and bearded
  • 500g salmon, cod and smoked haddock, diced
  • 6–12 raw tiger prawns or langoustines
  • 100ml white wine
  • 500ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g butter
  • 2 banana shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 50g plain flour
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and chopped
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • sea salt and white pepper
  • buttered samphire, to serve

For the mash topping

  • 1kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 50g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 egg yolks

For the breadcrumb topping

  • 250g fresh breadcrumbs
  • small handful of dill and tarragon, chopped
  • 50g unsalted butter
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  1. Put a saucepan over high heat until extremely hot. Throw in all the seafood and the white wine and bring to a frantic boil, then lower the heat slightly, cover with a lid and simmer for 3–4 minutes. Remove the lid, take the seafood out with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Keep the cooking liquor over low heat and add the cream, mustard and bay leaves and simmer for a few minutes. Reserve for later. Pick the meat from the shellfish and put all the prepared seafood in the fridge.
  2. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan over medium heat, then add the shallots and fennel with a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until softened. Add the flour whilst still stirring and cook for a further 5 minutes. Now gradually ladle in the reserved cream mixture and stir until thick. Season well with salt and pepper and pick out the bay leaves. Leave to cool in a bowl in the fridge, with clingfilm pressed onto the surface of the sauce, for 2 hours until cool.
  3. For the mash topping, boil the potatoes until you can easily stick a knife through them, then drain in a colander and give them a few minutes back in the pan over low heat to steam dry. Pass them through a ricer, moulis or just bash with a masher until smooth. Heat the butter and cream in a small pan over low heat until piping hot, then stir into the mash with the egg yolks and season well with salt and pepper. If you want to pipe it onto the pie, use a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  4. For the breadcrumb topping, blend the ingredients together with a good pinch of salt and a turn of white pepper until the colour of the herbs comes through.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  6. Add all the seafood to the cooled sauce with the chopped eggs and lemon juice and zest, and mix well. Spoon into a large pie dish, pipe or spoon over the mash, then scatter with the green breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes until the crumbs start to get crispy! Serve with buttered samphire.

The Pass was created to help the many people now struggling to feed themselves and their families as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you like or use this recipe, please consider making a small donation to Hospitality Action to help those whose livelihoods have all but disappeared.

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