Comfort food for the big freeze

Smoked haddock and prawn bake ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (1385-4098)
Smoked haddock and prawn bake ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (1385-4098)

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Now that the bracing winds and snow have well and truly chilled us to our bones, we all need some hearty and comforting food to thaw us out.

So this week I’ll be showing you a recipe for an easy fish bake – my take on fish pie.

Fish pie has been part of British culinary history since the time of the Tudors, when Henry VIII would frequently sit down to eel and carp pie,.

It would also be customary for the kings of that time to be sent fish pies annually by bakers or chefs as a kind of thanks for their services (or maybe just so they didn’t get their heads chopped off!)

I, however, find that prawns, smoked haddock and salmon are far more of our time and definitely a lot more satisfying on the tastebuds.

Fish pie, to me, evokes childhood memories of sitting round the table with the family and being given a big plate of it with peas. Nothing would be more satisfying on a cold winter’s day, or even a summer’s day for that matter. It should be served all year round in my opinion.

What I love most about the bake I’m showing you today is not only how simple it is, but the combination of lovely fresh fish with buttery mashed potato topped with crunchy breadcrumbs.

With the addition of sweetcorn and peas to the bake mix, you’ll get a lovely sweetness and crunch. If you’re feeling really adventurous you could fry off some leeks and add them to the mashed potato to bring a lovely depth of flavour.

Kevin Bingham is the chef patron of Restaurant 27 in Southsea. Call (023) 9287 6272.

Fish bake

Equipment:

Saucepan

Potato masher

Deep sided baking tray/Ovenproof dish

Peeler

Wooden spoon

Frying pan

Mash ingredients:

2lb of potato, peeled and chopped

4oz butter

One pint of milk

4oz cream cheese

4oz grated cheddar

Seasoning

Method:

Boil the potatoes until you can easily put a knife through them.

Mash them and then add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix until thoroughly combined and it drops off the spoon.

Bread crumb topping:

Generous handful of panko bread crumbs (found in any good Asian store)

Tsp butter

Tsp olive oil

Method:

In a frying pan, heat the oil and butter and then add the bread crumbs. Fry until golden brown.

Fish mix:

4-6oz peeled prawns

8oz salmon, chopped into cubes

8oz smoked haddock, chopped into cubes

4oz peas

One tin of sweetcorn

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to gas mark four.

In a mixing bowl, add the mash and fold in the fish mix.

Once mixed, pour into the baking tray and even out with the back of the wooden spoon.

Place in the oven for 35 minutes.

Take the bake out of the oven and cover with the bread crumbs.

Bake for a further 15 minutes, and then serve.