I thought this would be a really fun recipe. When you think about it, what we’ve got here is fish that’s been cooked, flaked, suspended in a sauce, and then poured into the shape of a fish. It’s fish in disguise … as fish! There’s something so endearing about that!
So, with great attention to detail, I crafted this dear little fishy for my family’s dinner. Even though it looks like a short recipe, there are a lot of different steps to it. Just to start out, you’ve got to peel and cook the potatoes, then mash them, then pipe them into a fish shape. (Pro tip: Do you have a piping bag that you really like? Don’t use it! You’ll be cleaning mashed potatoes out of that sucker forever if you do. Instead, take a large Ziplock bag, cut off one of the bottom corners, and use that to pipe your potatoes.) Then, you’ve got to put the plate with your fish outline, and a separate casserole dish with your actual cod fillets, into the oven and cook them while you prep all the garnish bits. And so on. (The complete recipe is at the bottom of the page, as usual.)
What does it taste like? It’s kind of Nursing Home Food: bland soft fish, bland mashed potato, and bland sauce. I thought it would be better with some pepper. The recipe calls for packaged soup mix, so there is already PLENTY of salt. I will never understand what the chopped, hardboiled eggs add to the dish. I guess it would be wasteful to use a slice of egg for the fish’s eye and then throw the rest of the egg away, but it’s really strange to have the egg chunks in the fish/mushroom soup sauce. In conclusion, this dish is a pain in the ass to make, and it doesn’t exactly make up for your trouble with great taste … but it looks so darn cute!
Now, let’s check in on our little fishy friend to see how he’s doing …
O Hai, Fishy! I see you’ve sprouted legs and you’re taking your game to land! Good for you, Darwin Fish! That ocean wasn’t big enough for you! Besides, your walk is sooo frickin’ fierce!
This recipe comes from a book called Woman’s Own Book of Casserole Cookery (by Jane Beaton, published in 1967). I also own another cookbook called His Turn to Cook which supposedly focusses on manly masculine male cooking. So, now I have questions regarding gendered cooking: What makes a recipe inherently “feminine”? What makes a recipe inherently “masculine”? What, exactly, is so intrinsically female about “Saucy Fish Pie”? (On second thought, please don’t answer that last question. Please.) Hand in your essays by next week … 6 pages, double-spaced, with references.
Saucy Fish Pie
1½ lb. potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 13-oz. pkt cod fillets
½ pint milk
1 1½-pint pkt. mushroom soup
2 hardboiled eggs
1 stuffed olive, sliced (I actually used lots of olives because I wanted to make scales all over the fish’s body. Deal with it.)
Pipe or fork the mashed potato into a simple fish shape on an ovenproof serving dish and build up the sides, forming a case. Bake in the oven at 350° for half an hour or until golden brown. Bake the cod fillets in the milk in a cooler part of the oven at the same time as the potato case. Strain off the milk and make up to 3/4 pint with water. Flake the fish. Add the liquid to the mushroom soup powder in a saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring all the time and cook for 5-7 minutes. Chop the eggs – reserving 1 slice for the eye. Add the chopped eggs to the saucepan together with the fish. Pile into the potato case and garnish with egg slice and slices of olive. Serve with a green vegetable or with a crisp salad. Serves 4.
A version of this post originally appeared in Jen R. L. Disarray’s blog, Maybe We Shouldn’t Be Eating This. Jen has a stupid broken arm, so until it improves a bit more, she’s cross-posting a few of her favorite recipes from the previous year.