Sunday, 29 January 2012

Salt Cod: Fish Pie

Salt Cod Pie, Korean Mushroom Pickle, Mixed Vegetables with Herbs and Fennel

This recipe has multiple steps that take some time, but most can be done in parallel.  It's a nice down-home kind of meal; that kind of hearty fare that we grew up with on the coast.  Well, minus the delicious mushroom pickles and Medi veggies.

First, I make a Court-bouillon to flavour the fish:

4 cups of water
1 cup of white wine
1 carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
1 large onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
Bouquet Garni: 5 sprigs of thyme, 5 sprigs parsley, 1 dried bay leaf, 1 sprig sage, 3 green onions (1/2 a leek would be ideal)

Add the olive oil and fennel to a pot and heat until the seeds pop or begin to change colour.  Coarsely chop the onion, carrot, and celery and start sweating them in the olive oil with the garlic, but leave those cloves whole.  Do not let the veggies brown.

Once sweated, add the water and bouquet garni and simmer for 10 minutes.  Then add the wine and finish in 20 mins of simmering.

Court bouillon can be used later simply as a veggie stock.

The Filling

2 large red potatoes
2 lbs of salt cod (soaked over night and with the water having been changed at least once)
1 can of evaporated milk (henceforth evap)
2 fresh bay leaves (1 dried)
1/2 a fennel bulb (1 cup diced roasted fennel)
2 onions
1 garlic clove
1 cup of peas
1 diced boiled carrot (grab the leftover carrot from the court bouillon, if you've got it)
1.5 tsps white roux
1/2 cup of fresh parsley
1.5 cups court bouillon

Bake your potatoes on a bed of salt at 425F.  The flesh under the skin, when done, should be browned.  Dice them to get a good 1 1/2 cups of taters.  I was going to use leftover mash, but Maria scarfed it all the night before.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a pan or wok and begin browning off your reconstituted salt cod or, as a healthier option, just flake it off..

Heat the evap with the bay leaves on a low heat on the stove.  Do not simmer, do not boil.  Just let it gently absorb the flavours of the bay leaf.

Roast 1/2 a fennel bulb at 425F with the potatoes with olive oil and then dice it up.

Sweat onions and garlic then add fennel, fish, potato, parsley and court bouillon.  Cook for 20 mins and the court-bouillon should be greatly reduced..

Add half of the mixture to a food processor with the evap and pulse it until it is thick and smooth.  Try to err on the coarse side of smooth, however, since you're not trying to make a fishy mash or a delicious paste. Rather, you're doing this so that the pie will be thick and consistent. Re-incorporate the goop with the rest of the mixture, add the peas, the carrot, and the roux.  Hold at a near simmer for another 10-15 minutes and remove.

Double pie crust recipe (leave out the sugar genius)

Makes 2 pies.

Troubleshooting Tips
  • Always taste your filling before you put it in your pie
    • If it is too salty, dilute it with more mash or some reduced cream (yes, you can reduce cream as you would a stock)
    • If  you've overcooked  it, some of your ingredients were of poorer quality, or generally you find your filling is not tasty enough:
      • Add a shot of wine to the sauce at the end
      • Add some fresh herbs to the filling (they may have been overcooked in the court bouillon)
      • Add some pan roasted fennel seeds to the filling (1/2 tsp max)
      • Add a tbsp of mustard to the filling
  • Crumbly Pie crust
    • Overworked dough
  • Soggy Pie
    • Your filling was too wet
  • Court Bouillon takes too much time
    • Use veggie stock and add a shot of wine and some fresh herbs to the filling
  • Always taste your salt cod before you put it in your filling
    • If it is too salty, soak it a bit longer
    • If it is not salty enough, you will have lost some of the flavour while you're at it, but you can't re-salt it.  Just add a pinch of salt to the pie.

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