Good Friday Fish Pie

Easter Tradition

During medieval times, meat eating was considered to be not at all good for you and caused people to become a too “frisky”. So “fish days” (and lots of them) were introduced. Initially these fell on Fridays and Saturdays. Wednesdays were introduced in the 15th century. But this was not good news for the poorer population as they did not have easy access to fresh fish. This meant that for their fish days they were having to use salted fish. So either way, meat or fish, their blood pressure couldn’t have been good. Eventually the number of fish days were reduced to include only Fridays and the period of Lent.

The fish pies we eat today have their origins back in medieval times when they were made with eels, herrings or salmon. The use of dried food was dropped as was the paste or pastry topping.

Ingredients - serves 4

8oz (225g) smoked haddock fillet 1 small onion, chopped
12oz (350g) unsmoked haddock fillet 1oz (25g) flour
½ pint (275ml) milk 2oz (50g) Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons water 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 bay leaf 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1oz (25g) butter Salt & Freshly milled black pepper
For the topping:-  
1½lb (675g) potato (after peeling) A little milk
1oz (25g) butter Freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Lay fish in a single layer in ovenproof dish and add the milk, water and bayleaf.
  2. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 for 20 mins.
  3. While the fish is cooking boil the potatoes until soft. Mash with the butter and nutmeg.
  4. Add the milk and beat until creamy. Put to one side. This creamed potato will be used to top your pie
  5. Once the cooked fish is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and flake, removing any residual bones. Put to one side along with the strained cooking liquid.
  6. Melt the butter gently in a saucepan. Add the chopped onions and cook gently until softened.
  7. Stir in the flour and gradually add the strained cooking liquid until you have a creamy sauce, stirring continuously.
  8. Stir in the cheese, fish, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.
  9. Pour the mixture into a 2pt (1litre) pie dish and top with the creamed potato.
  10. Cook in the top of the oven pre-heated to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 25 mins or until nicely browned and bubbling.


haddock fish identification