My culinary tour of France is done for now. Time to cross borders and visit other European countries starting at home, in the UK. Which 2 dishes would you choose to represent British cuisine? Fish pie and rhubarb crumble? Crumble, fair enough. But I’m not sure I’d have chosen fish pie. And not because of my general aversion to fish. I’d have chosen the infamous Sunday roast. After all, historically, the Brits are renowned meat roasters as chronicled by Ben Rogers in his wonderful book, Beef And Liberty: Roast Beef, John Bull and the English Nation.
Anyway, fish pie it is. And it is a pretty good one. I think Le Cordon Bleu Frenched up the recipe. Roberta said it was the best fish pie ever.
The fish: smoked haddock, monkfish, cod and prawns.
The sauce was a velouté. Onions sweated in butter. Fish bones and prawn carcasses added. The pan was deglazed with Noilly Prat vermouth and reduced before adding fish stock. This liquor was poured over the diced fish and left to cool. This was the pre-poach. Fish was decanted, liquor reheated, then combined with a blonde roux, reduced and thickened. Cream added. Reduced again. Finished with parsley and dill. Fish arranged in a gratin dish. Sauce poured over. Potato purée piped on top. 1kg of riced potatoes, 200g of butter—that’s nearly a whole block, and 100ml double cream. Welcome to my world.
Forced rhubarb cured in lemon juice and sugar, later reduced in to a thick syrup. This rhubarb is convinced to grow out of season by being cultivated in the dark inside sheds. It’s typically pink because the chlorophyl isn’t activated by sunshine, turning it green. It’s not stringy and doesn’t require peeling. The rhubarb was gently fried then into a gratin dish. Syrup poured over. Topped with crumble—flour, ground almonds, icing sugar and butter. Oven. Custard.
I can be bought with custard.