Fish pies in Britain have their origins in the Christian practice of “fasting” days, particularly during Lent, when “fasting” did not necessarily mean not eating, rather it meant not eating meat. Fish was the substitute for those who could afford it.
Traditional fish pies were made with rosewater, sugar, spices and wine. Thankfully, this fish pie isn’t made with any of those ingredients, other than spices!
Fish pies are generally made with a white béchamel sauce derived from the dairy milk in which the fish was poached. I did not find that poaching the tempeh/tofu combination yielded optimum results in terms of flavour and texture (the tempeh/tofu reabsorb the non-dairy milk), but I wanted to remain true to the method and that is why I now boil and infuse the non-dairy milk separately. Recipe after the photos. Serves 4.
- 500ml non-dairy milk (soy or almond)
- 1 small onion, thickly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil of your choice
- 2 teaspoons asafoetida powder (aids in digestion)
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 300g combination of tempeh/tofu/smoked tofu (or only plain tempeh or tofu – whatever you have)
- 120g oyster or shitake mushrooms (or brown mushrooms if you can’t get the others), roughly/thickly sliced
- 60g flour (your choice as to kind)
- 150g frozen peas
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons Au Lac vegan shrimp/fish soup powder AND/OR 2 Tablespoons Au Lac vegan fish sauce (a word and photos of these two ingredients after the recipe)
- If you don’t have the 2 ingredients above, then use a vegetable stock cube
- ½ sheet of nori, torn to small bits OR 1-2 Tablespoons seaweed flakes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 lemon, juiced
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cheesy mashed potato topping
- 500g potatoes, cut into quarters (I like leaving the skin on, just be sure to scrub them well)
- 40g non-dairy butter
- 3 tbsp non-dairy milk
- 100g non-dairy melty cheese, grated and a bit extra for the top of the mash (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Pour the non-dairy milk into a large lidded pan (you will use this to make the rest of the filling as well, so make sure it’s large enough). Add the sliced onion and bay leaves. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Let it boil briefly, then take off the heat, transfer to a jug and let it infuse for 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes, discard the bay leaves (bay leaves are inedible) and set aside the onion chunks (you will chop them in the next step).
While you wait, chop the vegetables, including the onion used in the infusion and start preparing the potatoes for the mash topping.
Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in the same large saucepan you used for heating the non-dairy milk (no need to wash it because the filling will be cooked in there).
Add the carrots, leek and onion. Cover and let them sweat until soft (15 minutes), stirring regularly.
Add the tempeh/tofu/smoked tofu mix and the mushrooms. Mix well and let it cook for 5 minutes.
Add the flour, paprika, nutritional yeast and either the vegan shrimp powder and vegan fish sauce OR crumble the vegetable stock cube into the mix. Mix all ingredients well and cook for 3-5 minutes.
Gradually add the non-dairy milk (from which you will have removed the onion and the bay leaf), while stirring all the time (so that lumps don’t form). Mix all ingredients well and let it come to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the lemon juice, peas and nori/seaweed and let it simmer for an additional 5-8 minutes. Taste for seasoning (keeping in mind that the mash will also have salt, so go easy on that salt).
Half fill a separate saucepan with water. Add the potatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan, then mash with the non-dairy butter, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk and the grated non-dairy cheese.
It is likely the non-dairy cheese will be salty enough. Check and add more salt, if necessary. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Au Lac products are vegan and you will find them at your local Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese Asian market, rather than at your local Indian Subcontinent market. I found these (pictured below) in London’s Star Night Supermarket in Hackney.
Spoon the filling into a baking dish. Ensure you leave enough room for the mash topping.
Spread the mash topping atop the filling and spread it to the edges of the baking dish.
Then use the back of a fork to make little furrows.
Sprinkle the extra cheese on top of these furrows.
Place the baking dish on a baking tray (to catch any spillages).
Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until until the top is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling.
The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and https://www.internationalvegan.org can help you get started.