I grew up on an island (Jersey) where fresh fish is always abundant, so it’s only natural that every now and then I hanker for ocean pie. I grew up eating copious amounts of one type of fish or another, Gran’s cooking always leaving me stuffed but really happy.
I would often walk into Gran’s home after school and my paper route and be hit with the aroma of that amazing cooking. She was and still is my inspiration. I learned all her techniques, and refining them by incorporating methods of today is my way of passing on her legacy.
I miss her, but when I eat certain of Gran’s foods my heart warms at the thought that she may have been watching over me as I prepared it, guiding me so I’d do it right
The ocean pie
1 fresh fillet of cod
1 fresh fillet of haddock
1 fresh fillet of salmon
3 cups cooked shrimp
2 cups frozen scallops
½ cup of milk
1 small onion
2 cups frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Hollandaise sauce (See Recipe below.)
One-half glass of white wine
2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill
¼ cup butter
1 box puff pastry
Preparation is the key to this dish. Thaw the scallops; leave them in your kitchen sink over night for any excess water to drain away. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and leave it on the counter to thaw out while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Using a sharp fish knife, cut each filet into one-inch pieces. Chop up the onion. Wash the ends of the leeks, slice them down the centre and then chop the slices into smaller pieces. Set all of this to one side while you make the hollandaise sauce.
A hollandaise sauce for kings
¾ cup unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of salt and pepper
In a small saucepan, melt half a cup of butter and put aside, keeping it warm. In a stainless steel bowl, whisk egg yolks until thickened and pale. Whisk in water and lemon juice. Finally, add one tablespoon of the remaining cold butter.
Set the steel bowl over low heat by placing it over a saucepan of 1 to 1 1/2 inches of barely simmering water (Bain-Marie); whisk until the bottom of the pan can be seen between whisks, and wires of the whisk become lightly coated. This should take one to two minutes.
Remove from heat, immediately whisk in remaining cold butter: this will help stop the yolks from cooking. Now whisk in enough of the melted butter to thicken to the consistency of whipping cream. Whisk in similar-sized portions of melted butter until the half cup has been Add the rest of the melted butter in similar sized portions, whisking it , until the half cup has been added to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Preparing the ocean pie
In a large frying pan melt the quarter-cup of butter (see ingredients at top), then add the thawed out scallops. Gently fry for three to five minutes, (NOTE: a lot of liquid will seep out of the scallops. This is OK. It adds to the flavour.) Remove the cooked scallops from the pan and place in a large bowl. Now, put the chopped onion and leek in the pan; cook until the onion is clear in colour and then add the vegetables to the bowl with the cooked scallops.
Place the remaining fish – cod, haddock and salmon – in the frying pan. Add the milk and wine and simmer gently for four to six minutes, turning over half way through to ensure the fish is cooked throughout. Once the fish are cooked add them to the scallops and onion mixture.
Mix all the fish and onion together, then pour over your hollandaise sauce, you should end up with a pie filling consistency. Finally add in your frozen peas and carefully stir them through the mixture. Spoon the final mixture into the pie bowl.
Clean your work space on the counter and dry thoroughly. Then dust this work area with flour. Roll out one piece of puff pastry, until you have the desired size for the top of your pie. Then do the same with the second piece of puff pastry. (Most boxes of puff pastry come with two small squares.)
Crack the egg into a cup and whisk. Cut the two pieces of pastry to exactly the same size, brush the whisked egg mix over the top of one piece and then place the second sheet on top. (I do this to ensure I have a high pastry covering.)
Now place the combined pastry pieces on top of the pie, brushing the top of the pastry with the remaining egg mixture.
Put the pie in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. To serve, simply slice through the pastry and place on a dinner plate. I typically add more cooked peas on the side with a little mint, to make the meal that much more special.
You’d enjoy eating the whole ocean pie by yourself, but your friends would happily share it with you. Whichever, pull up a chair, sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labour. It will taste like a little piece of heaven.