07 March 2012

Irish Fish Pie

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day: a tale of Irish Fish Pie and saudade.
I know an awesome Irish girl who lives in Dublin. She encourages me to fearlessly drive manual cars and to wear pajama pants when buying liquor at the corner store at night. She went to Brazil for Carnaval and brought me back cachaça. She is a smarty pants engineer. She introduced me to Primark. And she married one of the coolest guys ever.  So it's like a team of awesome, every time they are around.

The Awesomes

The Awesomes lived in Lisbon up until about a year ago.  They stayed with us for a few days before they left Lisbon for good, and thanked us (for doing not much of anything) with the Avoca Cafe Cookbook! Irish recipes, like real Irish people eat! The Awesomes are excessive in the thank you gift department, but I am not complaining. I love this cookbook.

Naturally, with friends like this, I have been to Ireland many times, right?  To visit the Awesomes, to taste the Irish food of which the cookbook gives me a glimpse, to get in touch with my own wee bit of Irish heritage and soak in the lush green of it all.

Nope. Nunca. Not even once.

St. Patrick's Day is coming around, and that reminds me that BB and I still haven't managed a long weekend away in Dublin visiting the Awesomes. My heart is low, as one famous Irish lady has sung.

Since I have to be patient and wait for my trip to Dublin, I am choosing to pass the time with some new recipes from the Avoca cookbook.  The latest?  Irish Fish Pie.

I didn't think I was going to be much of a fish pie fan, to be honest. I am experiencing a little bacalhau burnout lately, so a casserole made of fish didn't whet my whistle.

Consider me converted. It reminded me of a comforting pot pie, with a mild taste and a creamy interior that makes you wish it were gray and rainy every day, just so you could make this and enjoy it to the fullest.

If you are looking for a great, authentic, and meat-free way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year, give this pie a try. A little soda bread on the side, some boiled potatoes and a pint of Guinness-- delicious!

(And, um, if you have tips on great flight deals from Lisbon to Dublin and/or ways to subdue a workaholic husband, send me a message.)

Irish Fish Pie
from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds of fresh mild fish (cod, haddock, etc.)
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 cups whole-fat milk
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
heaping 1/4 cup of flour
4 eggs, hardboiled, peeled, and sliced
one bunch of fresh Italian parsley
8 ounces frozen peas
1/4 to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, panko if you have them

1. Put the fish in a saucepan with the onions, milk, bay leaf and peppercorns. Place over a moderate heat, bring slowly to a boil and poach the fish for 5 minutes, or until it flakes easily. Remove the fish and set aside to cool, reserving the cooking liquid.

2. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. Strain the reserved milk from cooking the fish and gradually stir it into the roux. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Break the fish up into large chunks and place in a shallow ovenproof baking dish. Add the hardboiled egg slices, parsley and peas and pour the sauce on top. Scatter the breadcrumbs on top and dot generously with butter. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F (180C) for 30-40 minutes until brown and bubbling.


  1. Best blog ever, I was awed by the praise. We made the chicken and broccoli gratin from the same book this week. You are always welcome in Dublin. We'll be in Germany for st Patrick's day, new Irish tradition get out of Irekand cos it's a long weekend wohoo!! And after all that, who was that child and the dinosaur on Ryan's desk???? That show is a staple for Friday nights here and the food evokes rainy day feelings cos we get lots of them but luckily not thus week

    1. Thank you for the invite, amiga, you know I will take you up on it as soon as I can. (And/or eventually!)

      I love that you are leaving town for the one holiday everyone wants to spend IN your town. Of course, I guess that is exactly why you have to flee. Drunken foreigners wearing green hats with dangling shamrocks, roaming the streets-- that constitutes an evacuation situation, no doubt.

      Enjoy the sunshine!! And if you ever figure out what on earth the dino-kid is doing, let me know! It WAS really odd that he wasn't even acknowledged...