12 November 2002
Fish pie for tea tonight, I think: just so good on a nasty November night, and so easy. Mashed potatoes, made & enlivened how you like - me, I use a potato ricer, which might easily get my vote as Most Valuable Gadget, and beat it up with butter and a wooden spoon, plus whatever takes my fancy. I've got a few spring onions [that's scallions, to you across the water], which I might chop up and seethe in a little milk, beat that in for a version of what the Irish like to call champ. Plus lots of salt and pepper, of course. Then make a roux with flour, butter and a teaspoon of mustard flour (not sure why mustard works with fish, but it surely does), add milk slowly off the heat till you have a sauce, back on the heat to simmer for ten minutes till the flour's cooked and then break in some mushrooms. Add chunks of cod or haddock, fresh and naturally smoked (not the nasty yellow dyed stuff); add prawns if you've got 'em; add a couple of scallops if you're feeling seductive (they're not actually an aphrodisiac, but they might as well be). You can use wild salmon in season, but please not the farmed stuff. It's the marine equivalent of battery chicken, flavourless and greasy and full of chemicals and hormones. Plus the farms pollute their environment and spread disease into the wild population; have no truck with them.
Stir in a couple of anchovy fillets for depth of flavour, add salt and pepper till it tastes right, then pour the sauce into a buttered dish. Heap the potato on top, spread it around and ruffle it up with a fork, stick it under a hot grill till it's a dark golden brown all over, and then eat and enjoy.
© Chaz Brenchley 2002
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.