No-Fuss Fish Pie Recipe

Photo: Lori Skelton

Fresh fish is preferable, but this recipe is a great use of frozen fish that has been thawed. If you are using frozen, go for the larger amount of shrimp.


  • 12 oz. skinless whitefish, haddock, or cod filets
  • 12 oz. skinless salmon filets
  • 4-6 oz. raw, peeled, deveined shrimp
  • ½ C. roughly chopped parsley
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2lbs. russet potatoes (or use half Yukon Gold for a bit more texture and flavor), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (don’t peel Yukon Golds, if using)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 4 T. room-temperature butter, divided
  • 1 large leek, cleaned, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, coarsely grated
  • 2 generous handfuls (or a 5oz. bag) of fresh spinach
  • 2oz. half and half plus 2 oz. heavy cream (to approximate what the British call ‘single cream’)
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ t. grated nutmeg, or to taste
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

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1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Have ready a 2 – 2 ½ quart, deep baking dish. Cut fish into 1½-inch pieces, cut shrimp in half if large, then put fish and shrimp into dish along with lemon juice and parsley, plus salt and pepper to taste.

3. Cook potatoes in pan of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, or until tender.

4. While potatoes are cooking, heat sauté pan over medium heat, then add olive oil and 1 T. butter. When butter has melted and foam has subsided, sauté leeks 2-3 minutes, and then add carrots and sauté 2-3 minutes more. You want the vegetables to begin to soften, but not get brown or crispy. Add spinach to pan, and wilt down, no more than 2 minutes. Add half and half and cream to pan, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and then stir to combine. When the liquid just comes to the boil, dump contents of the sauté pan over fish in the baking dish, add cheese, and stir to thoroughly combine everything.

5. Drain the potatoes, and return them to their pan to dry a bit. After about 30 seconds, add the remaining 3 T. butter, season with salt to taste, then mash in the pan until fairly smooth. The odd lump of potato is fine, but this is not the place for “smashed,” “crushed,” or “cracked.” Now spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the fish and vegetables in the dish, and spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the entire top, with no gaps at the sides.

6. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until cooked through; the potatoes should be golden, with crispy brown bits sticking up.

Suggestions for how to personalize this dish:

  • Most recipes for British fish pies include a little shellfish, a bit more smoked white fish, and a fair amount of fresh white fish and fresh oily fish. Choose your own fish, in amounts that add up to 28-32 oz. total.
  • Other vegetables could include asparagus, shelled green peas, julienned snow pea pods, baby bok choi or napa cabbage – anything on the lighter, sweeter side of green. Collards, lighter kales or mustard greens could be used instead of, or in combination with spinach. Just be sure to start with a good amount of onion, leek or shallot, and of course you can include garlic if you wish!
  • Other seasonings: dry mustard and cayenne, curry powder, or Cajun spices instead of the nutmeg, or thyme or tarragon in addition to or instead of the parsley.
  • Add some fresh grated horseradish to the mashed potatoes, or go easy on the carbs and use mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes.

Source: Lori Skelton. Recipe modified from Jamie Oliver’s “Kitchen Kit” video

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