Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Nursery Fish Pie

Disclaimer: I don’t really like fish. I like sea bass and prawns and calamari but the rest of it, as far as I’m concerned, can stay in the water and off of my plate. But, I’m a very good girlfriend you see and when the man indoors wants a fish pie for dinner, I deliver. What I’m trying to say is that this recipe is great if you don’t really like fish but for whatever strange reason you kinda have to eat it.

We all know how much of a Nigella fan I am and she is my go to woman when in need of a recipe. This fish pie was featured in Feast, otherwise known in my house as the ‘Every Occasion Bible’. I used to rent this from the library almost constantly before I got my own copy, it’s such a great book. The recipe is also on Nigella’s site, which you can find here.



I had no need to cook for 8 people so I halved the recipe and made a few changes so the instructions below are inclusive of my amendments.

First things first, peel and chop enough potatoes to make the mash. I didn’t weigh my potatoes, but used about 5 regular sized ones. Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are really soft then mash them with a splash of milk and a big chunk of butter.  At the same time, hard boil two eggs (Delia says 7 minutes, and Delia knows her eggs so trust in Delia) and boil about 80g of peas for a minute or two.

In a large pan, lay roughly 250g each of cod and smoked haddock, top with a couple of bay leaves, a tablespoon of peppercorns and half an onion then pour over 250ml of milk. Bring this to the boil then reduce to a simmer and gently cook the fish for about 5 minutes until it starts to flake. Remove the fish to a plate and drain the milky liquid into a jug.

Now to make the sauce. Melt 40g of butter in a saucepan and stir in the same amount of plain flour. Cook down for a minute or so, then remove from the heat and whisk in the fishy milk. Yes, that’s right, fishy milk. Lovely. Put the pan back on the heat, add a pinch of grated nutmeg and heat through until thickened. Remove from the heat again and stir through about 100g of grated cheddar cheese.

To assemble, flake the fish into the bottom of an ovenproof dish, keeping it quite chunky. Next, add 150g of cooked king prawns, then pour over the cheesy sauce. Use a spatula to spread out the sauce and ensure even distribution. Sprinkle the peas onto the sauce and fish layer then lay slices of hard boiled eggs on top. Add a bit of chopped parsley. Dollop your mashed potato on top then use a fork to rough it up, before adding a good handful of grated cheddar cheese. Pop the fish pie into the oven for 30 minutes on about 190°c. It should come out bubbling and creamy.

I must admit, this was rather lovely, even as a non-fish fan. Good old Nigella delivers again. But, I do have two issues. One: There is an absolute f**kload of washing up. That’s even more than a shitload. Two: My kitchen smelt of fish.

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Recipe: Sea Bass with Sweet Chilli Veg and Noodles

This is a gorgeously simple dish which takes less than 15 minutes to go from fridge to plate, making it perfect for a week night meal. It’s damn tasty too.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 boneless sea bass fillets
  • 2 nests of dried egg noodles

What you do:

  1. Start by thinly slicing both peppers, thinly slice your onion into half moons and shave delicate strips off the carrot using a vegetable peeler.
  2. In a wok, heat three teaspoons of the sesame oil and stir fry the garlic and ginger for a minute until your entire kitchen smells heavenly. Add your brightly coloured vegetables and cook them over a medium heat, stirring frequently. This isn’t a stir fry, so although you don’t want the veg overcooked, you also need them to soften enough so they start to become sweet and sticky. This should take about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan until it is very hot, then carefully place the sea bass fillets into the pan, skin side down, and press down with a fish slice for a minute or two to ensure the skin goes gloriously crisp. Cook the sea bass for about three minutes per side, it should be wonderfully soft and flaky when it is cooked with a nice crunchy skin.
  4. Whilst all this is going on, cook your noodles according to the instructions on the packet, and once cooked, drain well and toss with the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 tsp of soy sauce.
  5. Go back to your veg and add the other three teaspoons of soy sauce, the sweet chilli sauce and the water and bubble for a minute until you achieve a shiny, sticky sauce. You can add more water if it’s all a bit gloopy.
  6. Plate up your noodles first, top with the sticky vegetables in their sweet chilli sauce, then place your sea bass fillet on top, drizzling over another few drops of sesame oil to finish. Some finely sliced spring onions or coriander leaves would be lovely as a finishing touch. I, sadly, did not have either in my fridge.

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Number of Injuries: 1 – along with my carrot shavings, I treated myself to some added protein with a thin slither of thumb. Yummy!

Washing Up Score: 6/10 – a wok, a pan, a saucepan, a colander…all large, bulky items that can’t be easily hidden and must therefore be seen to swiftly. Bore.