Recipe: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | Photography: Ashlee DeCaires

This traditional dish screams comfort food! Not a real seafood fan, I always knew smoked fish pie would be on the menu if Dad went fishing and came home with a kahawai. If, like me, smoked fish is not your thing, you can replace the fish component with smoked chicken or leftover roast chicken.

500g potatoes (Agria or Moonlight or other floury variety)
125g butter
2 cups milk
½ onion
½ fennel bulb, finely sliced (optional)
½ cup flour
400g smoked fish
1 cup peas (frozen is fine)
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
salt & pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs (optional)

Bring the peeled and chopped potatoes to a simmer in well-seasoned water. When completely cooked through, drain well. Add 25g butter and mash before stirring in ½ cup of milk.

Over a medium to low heat, melt 100g butter with the onion (and fennel if using) in a medium-sized pot. When the onion has softened, add the flour and continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Slowly add the remaining milk, stirring continuously.

When the sauce has thickened, take off the heat and add in the flaked smoked fish, peas and mustard. Check the seasoning and adjust to your taste before pouring into a 1½–2 litre oven proof dish. Half or quarter the eggs and poke these into the sauce. Click here to get Back to Basics White Sauce recipe.

Top with the mash potato. Using a fork rake the top to make grooves which when baked will get nice and crunchy.

Bake in the oven at 180°C for 35–45 minutes.

Love Food Hate Waste Tip

1  Use leftover mash potato, kumara or pumpkin for the topping.

2 Got leftover smoked fish? Make extra sauce which can be frozen and used at a later date. Spread on slices of bread, roll them up and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in moderate oven until golden and crispy.

An Alternative Version

2 tbsp oil
½ onion, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup Basmati rice
1½ cups chicken stock
150g (2–3 cups) baby or chopped spinach
100g butter
½ cup flour
1½ cups milk
300–400g smoked fish
1–2 cups breadcrumbs

Heat a pan with the oil and add the onion and curry powder and cook slowly until the onion is soft. Add in the rice, stir well then pour in the stock. Simmer uncovered until the rice is nearly cooked. Add the spinach, stir well, cover and turn off the heat.

Melt the butter in a pot before stirring in the flour. Stir and cook for 1–2 minutes before slowly whisking in the milk. Cook until the sauce has thickened then add the smoked fish. Check and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

Layer the cooked rice on the bottom of a 1½ –2 litre oven dish. Pour over the smoked fish sauce then scatter on some breadcrumbs then bake in a moderate oven for approx. 30 minutes.

Home-made breadcrumbs are a great way to make sure bread doesn’t go to waste, whether it’s the crusts no one will eat or the end of that artisan loaf that you just couldn’t eat fast enough.
Fresh breadcrumbs can be made by simply putting the stale bread into the food processor until desired consistency and can be used straight away, whether it’s as filler (think meatballs, meatloaf or home-made burgers) or as a topping.
For dry breadcrumbs, which you can store and use when needed, dry the bread out before processing into crumbs. A great way to dry them out is in the oven after you have turned it off.

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