Creamy Seafood Pie with Colcannon Mash

Ok, so this isn’t the quickest of recipes. But bear with me, because a Dutch oven of creamy, seafood pie, topped with a colcannon mash top and baked until cheesy and golden is total pie heaven. Seafood lovers, take note! 

A black Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven with a fish pie in it. A serving has been scooped out revealing the creamy seafood mornay inside.

A bit of a backstory

While I was test-driving this recipe, I put a little on the end of a spoon for the Irishman to try, and said: “what does this remind you of?” He knew exactly what I was thinking because we both LOVE a good seafood chowder. When we’re in Ireland, we love to stop at country pubs for lunch and a quick bowl of soup. I’ve had so many versions over the years, but one of my favorites is always at the Dingle Bay Hotel in Co. Kerry where, when we were last there, they served it with brown bread and lashings of butter. Total food heaven!

When I set out to make a Fish Pie, I knew I wanted it full of seafood and very little vegetables, because I thought we could save that for the topping  Colcannon mashed potatoes on top (because ah Potatoes!), melted cheddar and that’s it. As far as I’m concerned, the only vegetable that should go into the filling of a fish pie is peas. Let the seafood shine I say, steam some greens if you will, and serve as a side.

Ps, if you are in Dingle anytime soon, stop in at the Dingle Bay Hotel and have a bowl of seafood chowder for me.

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What you need to make this easy fish pie recipe

  • Dairy – butter, full cream milk, vintage cheddar cheese, smoked cheddar.

  • Vegetables – leeks, floury potatoes (suitable for mashing), green cabbage, English spinach, green spring onions.

  • A selection of fresh and smoked seafood – My go-to’s are fresh fish (always salmon), green prawns (fresh shrimp), smoked rainbow trout, and smoked mussels in oil. When you are buying smoked fish, stay away from things like smoked salmon (the kind that you put on bagels). It doesn’t sit well in a baked pie and the end result won’t work as well. I use hot smoked rainbow/ocean trout. It has a beautiful, delicate flavor as well as adding a delicious smoked element to the pie. Everything was available at my local grocery store, and while buying seafood can be expensive, this is a big batch that easily serves 8 people. Great for those big holiday family dinners!

  • Pantry – plain, all-purpose flour, sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper

  • Frozen peas

  • Fresh parsley, bay leaf
All the ingredients that you need to cook Seafood Pie.

Variations and Substitutions

I like to aim for my seafood pie to have about 1/3 of smoked seafood and 2/3 unsmoked. Feel free to tinker with these ratios depending on your tastebuds. You can also substitute your choice of seafood. I like my pie to have lots of salmon, however, you could always substitute with white fish, lobster, or even crab meat depending on availability.

Cooking for a special occasion? A dinner party, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve? Let’s make individual pies instead! Divide up the seafood filling into oven-safe ramekins and top with the colcannon top. Bake until golden as per the recipe! There’s something about individual fish pot pies that I just love!

I’m a big believer that fish pie shouldn’t be stuffed full of vegetables, however, if it floats your boat, then go for it. A traditional British fish pie also has hard-boiled eggs dotted around the casserole dish surrounded by the white sauce filling. While I don’t add them, you totally could. 

The nitty gritty

Fish Mornay

  1. In a Dutch oven on low heat, sweat off the leeks in 25g of butter until they are soft. Remove from the pot and set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it’s just about to simmer (approx 55-60 degrees). Add the fresh seafood and poach in the milk until cooked. Larger pieces (like salmon) will take about 6-8 minutes, while small prawns will take considerably less time. Once the seafood is cooked, remove it from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and set aside the poached fish.

  3. On a low heat, melt the remaining 60g butter in the Dutch oven. Add the plain flour and stir to combine into a paste. Cook, stirring continuously, on low heat for 5 minutes.  This is needed to cook out the flour.

  4. Add 1 cup of the poaching liquid continually stirring to allow the milk to incorporate into the flour mixture (or roux). At this stage, change from using your wooden spoon to stir to a whisk. It will make it much easier to get a smooth, creamy sauce.  Gradually add the remaining milk a little at a time, stirring continuously until the mixture resembles a thick, creamy sauce. A bechamel sauce can take a lot of liquid, so don’t be afraid if it looks really runny. Cooking the sauce will cause the sauce to thicken. If it thickens too much, just add more milk.

  5. Add the grated cheese and stir through to melt them into the sauce. 

  6. Flake the cooked salmon and add to the bechamel sauce along with the cooked prawns, mussels, and rainbow trout. Give it a good stir to combine all the seafood with the bechamel sauce.

  7. Add the frozen peas, cooked leeks, and chopped parsley. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cheesy Mash Topping

  1. Cut all the potatoes into roughly the same size. (I normally aim for a 4cm square rough chop.) In a large pot, place the potatoes with enough cold water to cover them. Pop on the stove on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Continue to boil until potatoes are cooked through and soft.

  2. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk and the bay leaf til hot, but not boiling. Discard the bay leaf and pop it aside.

  3. In a large skillet, melt butter and sweat off the cabbage on low heat. When the cabbage has softened, add the spinach to the melted butter and cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Don’t overcook the spinach. It will wilt quite quickly once it hits the heat. Remove from heat and pop aside.

  4. Remove the cooked potatoes from the stove and drain them of water. Mash the potatoes and add the remaining butter. Stir it through till melted and incorporate it into the potato along with the hot milk. Stir until the potato has absorbed the milk. Add cabbage mix and green onions. Combine. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

  5. Spoon the colcannon mash all over the top of the seafood mornay and sprinkle with the remaining 30g grated cheddar. Bake in a preheated 200-degree oven for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.

Equipment

This fish pie recipe was cooked mainly in a 24cm Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven. You can also assemble the pie in a large baking dish or individual ramekins. As long as it’s an ovenproof dish you’ll be fine. I also used a separate 20cm pot to poach the seafood in and a large saucepan to boil the potatoes. You’ll also need a skillet for the colcanon. 

With utensils, you’ll need a whisk and grater for the bechamel sauce, as well as a potato masher, stirring spoon, and tongs for the mashed potato topping. A potato ricer will also make quick work mashing spuds.

Cook’s notes

The best thing that you can do for this fisherman’s pie (and yourself) is to let it rest for a few hours before its final bake in the oven. By all means cook earlier in the day or even the day before, top with the colcannon, and then cover and leave to rest for a few hours. you’ll be amazed at how much the flavors develop and deepen. 

Don’t feel like a colcannon top to your Seafood pie recipe? Alternatively, top the seafood mornay with a rough savory pie crust or layer of puff pastry. Brush with an egg wash and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. And now you have a Fish Pot Pie recipe!

If you are filling your fish pie to the top of your baking dish, just be sure to pop a baking sheet on the rack underneath as it may bubble over.

To get the smoothest creamy white sauce you’ll ever make, use a whisk instead of a stirring spoon. 

Serve this fish pie with…

  • Buttered green beans
  • Steamed vegetables – carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower come to mind.
  • A simple green salad
  • A slice of buttered brown bread to mop up all that creamy fish pie sauce

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. Leftover fish pie is delicious the next day! This recipe is not suitable for freezing, however, I like to make it the day before by making all the components and assembling them as per the recipe. In the final step, once the fish pie is topped with cheddar. Let it cool, cover and place into the fridge until you are ready to eat the next day. An hour before you are ready to serve, remove it from the fridge. Leave it on the bench for 20 minutes to warm up a bit, and then bake in the preheated oven. Just be aware it may take a bit longer to cook as it may be quite cold in the center. 

The finished Fish Pie with a cheesy mashed potato top in a black cast iron Dutch oven.

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A black Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven with a fish pie in it. A serving has been scooped out revealing the creamy seafood mornay inside.

Creamy Seafood Pie with Colcannon Mash

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  • Author: Emma Lee
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 serves 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Irish

Description

Ok, so this isn’t the quickest of recipes. But bear with me, because a Dutch oven of creamy, seafood pie, topped with a colcannon mash top and baked until cheesy and golden is total pie heaven. Seafood lovers, take note! 


Ingredients

Scale

For the fish mornay

  • 25g + 60g butter
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 800ml full cream milk
  • 250g salmon
  • 250g green prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 1/3 c plain flour
  •  120g smoked rainbow trout
  • 120g smoked mussels in oil, drained
  • 90g vintage cheddar
  • 50g smoked cheddar
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 heaped tsp fresh, finely chopped parsley
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Colcannon Topping

  • 1kg mashing potatoes
  • 1 cup full cream milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g unsalted butter 
  • 300g green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 30g English spinach
  • 30 g spring onions, finely sliced
  • sea salt
  • pepper, freshly ground
  • 30g vintage cheddar, finely grated

Instructions

Fish Mornay

  1. In a Dutch oven on low heat, sweat off the leeks in 25g of butter until they are soft. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it’s just about to simmer. Add the fresh seafood and poach in the milk until cooked. Larger pieces (like salmon) will take about 6-8 minutes, while small prawns will take considerably less time. Once the seafood is cooked, remove from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and set aside. 
  3. On a low heat, melt the remaining 60g butter in the Dutch oven. Add the flour and stir to combine into a paste. Cook, stirring continuously, on low heat for 5 minutes.  This is needed to cook out the flour.
  4. Add 1 cup of the poaching milk continually stirring to allow the milk to incorporate into the flour mixture (or roux). At this stage, change from using your wooden spoon to stir to a whisk. It will make it much easier to get a smooth, creamy sauce.  Gradually add the remaining milk a little at a time, stirring continuously until the mixture resembles a thick, creamy sauce. A bechamel sauce can take a lot of liquid, so don’t be afraid if it looks really runny. Cooking the sauce will cause the sauce to thicken. If it thickens too much, just add more milk. 
  5. Add the grated cheeses and stir through to melt them into the sauce. 
  6. Flake the cooked salmon and add to the bechamel sauce along with the cooked prawns, mussels, and rainbow trout. Give it a good stir to combine all the seafood with the bechamel sauce.
  7. Add the frozen peas, and chopped parsley. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Topping

  1. Cut all the potatoes into roughly the same size. (I normally aim for a 4cm square rough chop.) In a pot, place the potatoes and enough water to cover them. Pop on the stove and bring to the boil. Continue to boil until potatoes are cooked through and soft.

  2. In a saucepan, warm the milk and the bay leaf til hot, but not boiling. Discard the bay leaf and pop aside.

  3. In a frypan, sweat of the cabbage in half of the butter. When the cabbage has softened, add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Don’t overcook the spinach. It will wilt quite quickly once it hits the heat. Remove from heat and pop aside.

  4. Remove potatoes from the stove and drain of water. Mash the potatoes and add the remaining butter. Stir it through till melted and incorporate it into the potato along with the hot milk. Stir until the potato has absorbed the milk. Add cabbage mix and spring onions. Combine. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. 

  5. Spoon the colcannon mash all over the top of the seafood mornay and sprinkle with remaining 30g grated cheddar. Bake in a preheated 200-degree oven for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden. 

Notes

The best thing that you can do for this fish pie (and yourself) is to let it rest for a few hours before its final bake in the oven. By all means cook earlier in the day or even the day before, top with the colcannon, and then cover and leave to rest for a few hours. You’ll be amazed at how much the flavors develop and deepen. 

If you purchase seafood with skin on, be sure to remove it prior to adding it to the bechamel sauce.

Don’t feel like a colcannon top to your Seafood pie recipe? Alternatively, top the seafood mornay with a rough savory pie crust or layer of puff pastry. Brush with an egg wash and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. And now you have a Fish Pot Pie recipe!

If you are filling your fish pie to the top of your baking dish, just be sure to pop a baking sheet on the rack underneath as it may bubble over.

To get the smoothest creamy white sauce you’ll ever make, use a whisk instead of a stirring spoon.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 564
  • Sugar: 11.3 g
  • Sodium: 931.9 mg
  • Fat: 32.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.1 g
  • Protein: 30.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 159.7 mg

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