Craster kipper fish pie

Kenny Atkinsons rift on a classic fish pie uses fat king prawns, crabmeat, mussels and smoked kippers
By Kenny Atkinson
Craster kipper fish pie
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the seafood

  • 2 smoked Craster kippers
  • 100 medium boiling water
  • 12 king prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 200 g cooked white crab meat

For the mussels

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • ½ leeks, white part only, finely chopped
  • ½ fennel, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 500 g mussels, cleaned and beards removed

For the sauce

  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 200 ml hot mussel stock, (from above)
  • 100 ml hot cooking liquid of kippers, (from above)
  • 75 ml double cream
  • ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • ½ lemons, juice only

For the mash

  • 1 kg Ratte potatoes, peeled
  • 100 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 150 ml double cream

For the garnish

  • 400 g baby spinach, washed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 bunches spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 50 g freshly grated parmesan
  • 50 g breadcrumbs

Tips and Suggestions

Ratte potatoes are grown in the north east and are very waxy. They have a nutty flavour and work really well in mash. If you cant find them, just use Maris Piper instead also a good mash potato.

The secret to freezing fish pie successfully is to put the mash on top leaving a bit of space between each spoonful. This helps it defrost and reheat efficiently. Do not bake the pie before freezing instead let it cool completely, then freeze uncovered until solid.

Once solid, cover with plastic and heavy duty foil for storage, but try to consume the pie within two weeks of making for the best results. Let the fish pie defrost overnight in the fridge, removing the plastic and foil and cover it loosely with a fresh sheet of cling film, then bake as suggested above.


1. For the seafood: place the kippers into a deep pot, pour over the boiling water over and cover with a lid. Set aside for five minutes, then strain the kippers through a sieve, reserving the stock for the sauce.

2. For the mussels: heat the oil in a large pan, then add the shallot, celery, leek, fennel and garlic and cook until softened. Add the white wine and cook until the liquid has reduced in volume by half.

3. Meanwhile, discard any mussels that do not close when tapped firmly on a hard surface. Add the remaining mussels to the pan, cover with a lid and cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until all of the mussels have opened. Discard any that remain closed.

4. Strain the cooked mussels through a sieve, reserving the cooking liquid. Pick the mussels from their shells and set aside. Return the cooking liquid to the pan and simmer until reduced by half (about 200ml), then set aside until needed.

5. For the sauce: melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then add the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the mixture turns a light golden-brown.

6. Mix together the mussel cooking liquid and kipper stock. Slowly add the mixture to the pan, one ladle at a time, whisking continously to incorporate. When all the liquid has been incorporated, continue to whisk to prevent lumps from forming, until the sauce reaches a creamy consistency.

7. Simmer the sauce gently for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the double cream, mustard, chives and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

8. Remove the bones from the kippers and flake the meat into large chunks.

9. Heat a griddle or frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot, then rub the prawns in a little oil and fry for 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until they turn pink. Remove from the heat and squeeze over some lemon juice. Roughly chop the prawns and set aside.

10. For the mash: cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes, or until tender (a knife should slide easily into the potato). Drain and shake off any excess water. Return the potatoes to the pan and lightly dry out over a medium-low heat. Pass the cooked potato through a potato ricer into a clean pan.

11. Place the pan over a low heat and stir in the cubes of cold butter until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Stir in the double cream until well combined, then spoon the mash into a piping bag and set aside until needed.

12. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

13. For the garnish: blanch the baby spinach in a pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 seconds, then drain and refresh in ice water. Drain again, then squeeze out any excess liquid from the spinach with your hands.

14. In a separate pan, melt the butter over a medium-low heat and gently sweat the spring onions for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Spoon the spring onions into a muslin cloth or clean tea towel to drain off any excess liquid.

15. Neatly arrange the blanched spinach in the bottom of a pie dish and add the picked mussel meat, chopped prawns, crabmeat and flaked kipper meat. Finish with a layer of spring onions, then spoon the sauce over. Pipe the mash over to cover. Alternatively, spoon the mash on top.

16. Brush the top of the mash with the beaten egg, then sprinkle over the grated parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the grill to high and grill for five minutes, or until the filling is piping hot throughout and the topping is golden-brown and crisp.

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