The absence of high street fishmongers nowadays always poses problems, so it's important to point out that this recipe can be made using all frozen shellfish and any variety of white fish. However, what we recommend (because they are so good in December) is getting the scallops fresh. Likewise the fish, which can be monkfish, turbot or any firm white fish.
Hearty: Luxury seafood pie with a parmesan crust
- 250g (9oz) scallops (with corals if possible)
- 800g (1lb 12oz) monkfish fillet, cut into 3cm (1¼in) pieces
- 250g (9oz) frozen cooked mussels
- 250g (9oz) frozen large, raw tiger prawns
- 450ml (16fl oz) dry vermouth
- 1 bay leaf
For the sauce:
- 25g (1oz) butter
- 15g (½oz) flour
- 2 rounded tablespoons crème fraîche
- 1 heaped tablespoon fine capers in vinegar, drained, or salted capers, well rinsed
- 8 cornichons, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 heaped tablespoon chopped dill
- a good pinch of cayenne pepper
For the pastry:
- 375g (13oz) ready-made butter puff pastry
- 20g (¾oz) freshly grated Parmesan, plus
- 2 tablespoons to sprinkle
- 1 egg, beaten
- You will need a round pie dish 20.5cm (8in) in diameter at the base, 26cm (10½in) at the top and 3.5cm (1¼in) deep.
METHODTo start, if the scallops are large slice each one in half. Then pour the vermouth into a medium-sized saucepan and add the bay leaf.
Bring it up to the boil, add the scallops and, when it comes back to a simmer, time it for exactly 1 minute before removing them with a draining spoon to a colander over a bowl. Next add the monkfish – in two batches – following the same procedure (back to a simmer, but this time cook each batch for 2 minutes).
Next poach the frozen mussels (same as above, but remove them just as they come to a simmer) and finally the frozen prawns, only this time poach them until they turn pink and opaque. Then add the drained juices from the poached fish to the poaching liquid in the pan and bring it up to the boil, then reduce by two-thirds, which will take about 10 minutes.
Then pour the poaching liquid into a jug, you need about 150ml (5fl oz). Next make the sauce, do this by melting the butter in a small saucepan, stir in the flour, then gradually add the poaching liquid bit by bit, stirring continuously with a mini whisk. Cook on a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce has cooked, add the crème fraîche, capers, cornichons, and dill then season and add some cayenne pepper.
Once the sauce and fish are completely cold, mix them together in a bowl and pile into the pie dish. Next roll the pastry to an oblong 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in), then use a pastry brush to dampen the surface with a little water and sprinkle evenly with the 20g (¾oz) of Parmesan.
Then fold the pastry over and roll it out to 35cm (14in) square. Now cut two 2cm (¾in) strips from two of the edges of the pastry square.
Dampen the rim of the dish with water, press the strips of pastry on to the rim and dampen them. Press the rest of the pastry loosely over that to form a lid and, using a sharp knife, trim any excess pastry off. Then press the edges firmly together and flute them all round.
Make a steam hole in the centre with a skewer and roll any pastry trimmings together and cut them into leaves or little fish to decorate the top. Cover and chill for at least an hour, but it will be fine until the following day.
When you are ready to cook the pie, preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7, then brush the pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan.
Place the pie on a baking tray and cook on the centre shelf of the oven for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Leave to stand for about 5 minutes before serving.