This is literally my new favourite recipe! The UK is an Island with so many amazing beach towns, fisheries and ports so recipes such as Fish pie and Fish and Chips were always going to be included in a “British Classics” round up. I was born in Devon and go back every now and then to see family and visit the town and beaches; some of my favourite memories (actually most of them) include eating chips whilst sat on deck chairs (in the winter wrapped up in woolly snow gear!) or on the beach wall and being absolutely ambushed by seagulls!
Seagulls are relentless once they spot food and I swear they are getting bigger! We were once sat on the beach sharing a bag of chips and this huge seagull flew down and stood about a foot away from me, every time I blinked he’d edged forward and eventually he stole the chip from my hand and flew off celebrating with loud squawks and shrill laughter.
Along with a lot of other traditional British recipes this dish is great for using up leftovers, however this dish doesn’t have such a complete peasant background. Fish became popular in the 16th century when the church banned all Christians from eating meat for nearly half a year (around 200 days) to remind them of Christ’s sacrifice and to provide a spiritual lesson in self restraint. Instead people of high and low status became creative with their fish recipes, trying to make them grand and celebration worthy.
I initially thought a vegan version of this classic dish would be quite difficult to create as it has quite a strong flavour and is very creamy with a thick sauce, however it was actually really simple! I followed the same principle of my cottage pie and cooked down the veg, then added flour, then the liquid (in this case dairy free milk instead of mushroom stock) and finally added the tofu last to keep it soft.
A good fish pie has different textures and flavours in it so I decided to add oyster mushrooms which are a bit chewy along side the soft tofu and al dente vegetables. Another quality of a good fish pie in my eyes is a thick layer of cheesy mash on top! This is easily recreated with vegan cheese :)
Fish pie -
1 tblspn flour
1 gluten free vegetable stock cube
2 tblspn nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper
1 tspn paprika
500ml unsweetened non dairy milk (I used almond)
1/2 lemon juice
120g oyster mushrooms
1/4 nori sheet
Small bunch parsley
600g potatoes mashed with
To prepare your vegetables – finely chop the carrots, leeks and onion and crush the garlic. In a large saucepan or wide deep frying pan fry the vegetables in a little oil on a medium heat for 6-8 minutes until they are wilted.
Then add the flour, crumble in the stock cube, seasoning, nutritional yeast and paprika and give everything a good stir so it is all combined.
Add the milk and lemon juice, tear small pieces of the nori sheet off and add them with the sliced oyster mushrooms, tofu, peas and chopped parsley. Stir again and lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Heat your oven to 180c.
Boil, drain and mash your potatoes then mix in a strong flavoured vegan cheese of your choice.
Pour the filling into a baking dish and then top with the mashed potato and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is bubbling away.