Saffron & Prawn Fish Pie

Fewer foodie things offer more comfort then soft fluffy mash with a wholesome hearty filling, and with winter here and an apparent cold front with plenty of rain on the way I thought I would share my fish pie recipe with you all. Fish pie is of course quintessentially English but I have sneaked in some saffron and a few other exotic ingredients to make it a more glamorous offering (you can of course leave these additions out). You can also add more fish if prawns aren’t your thing and peas would offer a pretty and tasty substitute for the samphire which I foraged for at the market and thought to include here.

Samphire is a sort of succulent that  grows on rocks by the sea and has a pleasant salty asparagus like flavour. It’s also highly nutritious and if you haven’t tried it yet I can’t recommend it enough.  Choose smaller more tender pieces as the larger ones can be tough and if you want to try it first on its own pan fry it gently with butter and garlic and serve it with some grilled fish.

I added a pinch of turmeric to my mash on a whim – hence why its quite yellow! A little too yellow if you ask me 🙂 but that’s what experiments are for!

The nice thing about this Fish pie is that is can be made in advance and once assembled refrigerated and then cooked one or 2 days later, just in case you have time over the weekend to make it for the week. I am a big fan of meal prepping as it makes my week easier and my choices healthier. This fish pie is also simple enough as a mid-week meal, but also sophisticated in flavour enough for a lovely sunday lunch or dinner party.

A last note on the potatoes – I like to use a mix of regular and sweet potato as I find the slightly sweet flavour and less starchy flesh of the sweet potato adds something extra special to this dish.

It pays to find the best quality fish possible- I love the market at granger bay for my fish – so much to choose from! get there early though or you will miss the good stuff!

Ingredients – serves 6

300g approx (doesn’t have to be exact) skinless white fish fillet (kingklip is good)

300g approx (doesn’t have to be exact) skinless smoked haddock fillet

200g pink prawns (defrosted from frozen is fine – without tails or shells)

600ml vegetable stock

50ml cream (optional)

½ onion finely chopped

2 small leeks finely chopped

1 large bay leaves

1 large garlic clove finely chopped

Handful fresh dill chopped

50ml Saffron Water *see Note

Zest 1 lemon (use an unwaxed lemon or a well washed one!)

1 tbsp butter

1 tablespoon cornflour

1kg floury potato or sweet potato, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks. (don’t use Mediterranean potatoes for this – they are too waxy)

An extra knob of butter and splash of milk for the mash

NOTE: Saffron water: Take a pinch of saffron and grind it to a powder with a pestle and mortar. Then add 50ml water and let it sit for 20, 30 mins for full flavour and colour to develop.


  1. Plunge your peeled chopped potatoes into boiling salted water and cook for 20 mins or until cooked through – drain and leave to one side to cool slightly and dry out.
  2. In a wide shallow saucepan melt the butter and sweat down the onion and leeks till translucent but without colouring them too much and then add garlic and fry for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the bay leaf, vegetable stock, cream and saffron water (See tip at bottom) and bring to a very gentle simmer. 
  4. Add your fish fillets whole and poach the fish gently till just cooked through, approx. 8 minutes.
  5. Turn the oven on 180C and make sure the shelf is in the middle.
  6. Remove the cooked fish and flake it gently into your baking dish, adding the pink prawns and samphire in pieces if you are using it.
  7. Take 2 tbsp of the fish liquor or stock that was used for poaching and mix it with the cornflour till a smooth paste has been achieved and then add that back into the stock with the fresh chopped dill. Bring to a simmer over a gentle heat and reduce till thickened and creamy. Season well and add lemon zest.
  8. Pour the thickened sauce over the fish and prawn mixture and gently fold it in taking care not to break the fish flake up too much – you want nice chunky flakes of fish.
  9. Mash your boiled potatoes and add 20g butter and a splash of milk until you have a creamy whipped consistency that is easy to spread over the fish. Please don’t use a blender here as this will make the potatoes gluey in texture.
  10. Starting at the edges so the mash can attach itself to the side of the dish (this makes it easier for spreading) work your way around adding a spoonful of mash at a time and spreading it over the fish mix. You want a rough texture here so parts of it crisp up. Sprinkle with paprika for some colour and place in a moderate oven for 30 mins or until golden on top.
  11. Serve with a crispy green salad and creamy dressing and/or some green crisp veggies
  12. You can make this the day ahead and then refrigerate before cooking, however you would need to increase the cooking time to 40mins as it will be cold at start.

This dish is such a crowd pleaser and one of my favourites for winter. You can make it your own by adding different types of fish, even some extra veggies and different types of potatoes. I have even made it with scrunched up phyllo pastry on top for a dinner party which was more elegant but I favour mashed potato. You could even make individual little pies in large ramekins if you wanted to be fancy!

Would love to hear your comments if you try to make this!