On the ocean, I’m in heaven

Foodies - Ian Leatt
Foodies – Ian Leatt

Having grown up on an island where fresh fish is always in abundance, it comes as no surprise to me that every now and then, I have a hankering for ocean pie. Growing up eating copious amounts of one type of fish or another, Gran would always leave me stuffed but really happy.
I would often walk into her home after school and after finishing my paper route, only to be hit with the aroma of her amazing cooking. She really was and still is my inspiration – learning all of her techniques and developing them even further using today’s methods is my way of passing on her legacy.
I do miss her, but when I eat certain foods that Gran would produce, my heart warms at the fact that she may still be watching over me, telling me how to do it. Thanks Gran.

1 fresh fillet cod
1 fresh fillet of haddock
1 fresh fillet salmon
3 cups cooked shrimp
2 cups frozen scallops
2 leeks
1 egg
½ cup of milk
1 small onion
2 cups frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hollandaise sauce
½ glass of white wine
2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill
¼ cup butter
1 box puff pastry

Preparation is the key to this dish. Thaw the scallops overnight (leave them in your kitchen sink for any excess water to drain away). Take your puff pastry out of the freezer and leave on your counter to thaw out while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for your pie. Using a sharp fish knife, cut each fillet into pieces about 1 inch in size. Finely chop your onion. Wash the ends of your leeks, slice down the center and then chop up into smaller pieces. Set all of this to one side while you make the hollandaise sauce.

A hollandaise sauce for kings
¾ cup unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hollandaise

In a small saucepan, melt half a cup of butter, then put it aside but keep it warm. In a stainless steel bowl, whisk egg yolks until thickened and pale. Whisk in water and lemon juice, and finally, add your remaining 1 tablespoon of the cold butter.
Set your steel bowl over low heat by placing the bowl over a saucepan of 1 to 1½ inches barely simmering water (like a bain-marie); whisk until the bottom of the pan can be seen between whisks and the wires of the whisk become lightly coated. This should take between 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, and immediately whisk in remaining cold butter. This will help to stop the cooking of the yolks. Now whisk in enough of the melted butter to thicken to consistency of whipping cream. Do this until you have added all your melted butter, and finally season with salt and pepper.
In a large frying pan, melt your butter, then add to this the thawed-out scallops. Gently fry for 3 to 5 minutes (note: a lot of liquid will seep out of your scallops – this is OK: it all helps with the flavour). Having cooked your scallops, remove from the pan and place into a large bowl. Now, place your chopped onion and leek into the pan, cook until the onion is clear in colour, then remove and add to the bowl your cooked scallops are in.
With your remaining fish cod, haddock, and salmon, place these into the frying pan, add to this the milk and wine, and simmer gently for 4 to 6 minutes. Turn it over halfway through, this way ensuring your fish is cooked throughout. Once they are all cooked, place them with your scallops and onion mixture.
Mix all the fish and onion together, then pour over your hollandaise sauce. You should end up with a pie filling consistency. Finally, add in your frozen peas and carefully stir through the mixture.
Once you have completed this, spoon the final mixture into your pie bowl.
Clean your workspace counter and dry thoroughly, then dust with flour. Roll out your first piece of puff pastry, until you have the desired size for the top of your pie. Then do the same with your second piece. (Most boxes of puff pastry come with two small squares.) Crack your egg into a cup and whisk.
Cut the two pieces of pastry to the exact same size, brush your whisked egg mix over the top of one piece, then place the second sheet on top. (I do this to ensure I have a high pastry covering.) Once you have done this, place the combined piece on top of your pie, brushing the top of the pastry with the remaining egg mixture.
Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. To serve, simply slice through the pastry and place on to a plate. I typically add more cooked peas with a little mint – for some reason it just makes it that much more special. Sit down with friends or on your own and enjoy the fruits of your labour – after all, it really does taste like Gran’s little piece of heaven.
Ian Leatt, a former chef in Jersey, the Channel Islands, is general manager at Pegasus Publications Inc.

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