There are many potential misconceptions one stumbles upon when writing about frugal food. The delusion that bothers me the most is that many people, frugal or otherwise, assume that to be economically prudent one must always eat the least expensive ingredients. Of course, such an approach will almost certainly allow one to attain their financial goals, however, it can also be an extremely dull path down which to venture. In fact, there are many ways to be thrifty but to also enjoy the finer produce in life. This salmon and prawn fish pie is a case in point – no one would immediately assume it is a frugal recipe, but that it is. As your school teachers no doubt informed you, one must never read a book by its cover.
The most important thing to remember when cooking with meat is that a little can be made to go a long way – a rule that is particularly applicable to strongly flavoured meats such as salmon and lamb. For instance, this pie – which easily fills four – contains only two small fillets of salmon (£3) and 12 prawns (£1.25), but one never feels one is missing out. You see, the flavour of each constituent ingredient is so full that it is very difficult to lose in even the most disruptive of flavour combinations. Secondly, ingredients like fish and prawns freeze exceptionally well, so it is best to buy them when they are cheap, for use later on. The salmon in this pie set us back a mere 40p because it was bought the day before its sell-by date. For more advice on how to enjoy the best ingredients, whilst maintaining a frugal outlook
This fish pie is a really traditional dish, the inclusion of boiled eggs is evidence of that. This may seem a little strange to some of you, but the combination is extremely effective and adds a whole new dimension to what can often be a slightly boring affair. In fact, if you give this pie a try I shall have to insist that the eggs remain part of the furniture… trust me on this one!
Salmon and Prawn Fish Pie
• 2 small fillets of salmon
• 12 king prawns
• 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
• 1 pint of milk
• A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• 5-6 peppercorns
• 2 bay leaves
• 50g salted butter
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• A few sprigs of fresh parsley
• The juice of half a lemon
• 5-6 medium potatoes
• 50g cheddar cheese
1. First off, infuse your milk with nutmeg, peppercorns and bay leaves by warming them together in a saucepan for at least 30 minutes. Place the fish, prawns and egg in the bottom of a deep casserole pan and squeeze over the lemon juice. Boil the potatoes until cooked through and set aside.
2. Sieve the milk and transfer to a jug. In a saucepan melt 30g of butter, add the flour and whisk to form a roux. Gently fry the roux for 30 second before whisking in the infused milk, leave over a gentle heat to thicken. Mash the potatoes with a little milk and the rest of the butter, season well.
3. Scatter some parsley over the fish, pour over the béchamel sauce, which should be the consistency of custard. Top with the mash, followed by grated cheese and pepper. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes at 180C, cook until golden. Serve with peas and a hunk of bread.
Cost: As mentioned above, if one knows how to approach the situation even expensive meat such as salmon can be enjoyed frugally. I’ve factored in a realistic price for the salmon used in this pie, but I think the price is still exceedingly reasonable. Indeed, £5.80 for a hearty, filling fish pie isn’t a bad price at all, even though it is a little dearer than my usual offerings!