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Recipe: Simple fish pie

Photo source: BBC Good Food

Photo source: BBC Good Food

Fish pie is one the most delicious dishes ever and the ultimate comfort food. You can make it as heavy and as light as you like and add a variety of fish although properly smoked fish works a treat.

If you are not much of a cook and have never made one before this BBC Good Food recipe is a great way to learn how to poach fish, make a white sauce and master a fish pie at the same time.

If you are looking for a healthier version you can substitute the full-fat milk with skimmed milk, leave out the butter and use olive oil and skip the cheese all together.

Fish pie

Serves 4


  • 400g skinless white fish fillet
  • 400g skinless smoked haddock fillet
  • 600ml full-fat milk
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • Small bunch parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • 100g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1kg floury potato, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
  • 50g cheddar, grated


  1. Poach the fish. Put the fish in the frying pan and pour over 500ml of the milk. Stud each onion quarter with a clove, then add to the milk, with the bay leaves. Bring the milk just to the boil – you will see a few small bubbles. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 mins. Lift the fish onto a plate and strain the milk into a jug to cool. Flake the fish into large pieces in the baking dish.
  2. Hard-boil the eggs. Bring a small pan of water to a gentle boil, then carefully lower the eggs in with a slotted spoon. Bring the water back to a gentle boil, with just a couple of bubbles rising to the surface. Set the timer for 8 mins, cook, then drain and cool in a bowl of cold water. Peel, slice into quarters and arrange on top of the fish, then scatter over the chopped parsley.
  3. Make the sauce. Melt half the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 min over moderate heat. Take off the heat, pour in a little of the cold poaching milk, then stir until blended. Continue to add the milk gradually, mixing well until you have a smooth sauce. Return to the heat, bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins, stirring continually, until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then pour over the fish.
  4. Assemble and bake. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Boil the potatoes for 20 mins. Drain, season and mash with the remaining butter and milk. Use to top the pie, starting at the edge of the dish and working your way in – push the mash right to the edges to seal. Fluff the top with a fork, sprinkle with cheese, then bake for 30 mins. Make up to a day ahead, chill, then bake for 40 mins.


  1. I made this last week for friends and it was a great success! I always check out their recipes at the site before I cook anything “different” just in case I’m missing some vital steps/ingredients…
    For this dish I used cod, salmon and prawns (frozen) and added some cream to the bechamel. yum!

  2. Annabel Karmel is great Angela, I really relied on her cookbook when my little girl was very small

  3. This looks delicious. I’ll have to try it. I normally make my own student version using the tinned varieties. A bit cheaper

  4. Which tinned products do you use for this recipe, James?