William Powell Country

Russian Fish Pie

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Article written by 21 February 2013

The new trout season is dawning upon us, and those of us who frequent waters where fish are to be taken will soon be looking for new ways to eat them as trout slowly starts to replace the last few hen pheasants in the freezer.

I have a colleague who regularly fishes big fish waters, and he’s always looking for innovative ways to get his wife and family to eat his catch. I smoked a few of the larger fish for him, and he has been inspired to buy a cold smoker and get experimenting himself. He’s now sent out at weekends for the express purpose of catching more fish to fulfil orders from friends and family for cold smoked trout.

But there are other ways, as I am regularly told, to eat things than smoked. So I remembered a recipe my mother used to make when we were kids, Russian fish pie. I’m not sure how authentic this is (either to the Russians or my mother) but here’s my take on it. And by the way, you could make it with hot smoked trout instead.

The pie is not what you might be thinking – it is basically a puff pastry wrap, with a latticed or plaited top, big enough to slice and feed 4. The pie filling is a rather filling mix of fish, rice and egg, and unless my memory is playing tricks on me a small jug of melted butter comes with it (it certainly does with mine).

As usual, plump for shop bought puff pastry as no doubt you would rather be fishing or at the pub. The recipe calls for either a 1.5 to 2lb whole trout or a salmon fillet of around a pound, or any fish really, but the pink flesh looks rather nice in the pie.

Measure half a pint of brown rice, and cook it until tender. I put 4 eggs in with the rice and boil them at the same time. Whilst the rice is boiling, chop an onion and clarify it in a frying pan with a lid. Add a bit of chopped garlic and some chopped mushrooms if you like, a good bouquet garni and a glass of white wine. After letting some of the alcohol come off the wine, put the fish in with it, pop the lid on and steam. As soon as the fish can be flaked, remove it and flake it and retain the juice.

So now you are left with a pan of boiled brown rice, 4 boiled eggs (which need to be chopped), a pile of flaked fish and a pan of juice.

Reduce the juice by about half, and mix all the ingredients together with some chopped parsley, dill and a knob of butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. The result should be a fairly firm but moist bowl of deliciousness.

Now to the puff pastry. Pre heat the oven to the recommended temperature; roll out your puff pastry about the size of two A4 pages next to each other.  Place on a greased tray (or baking paper) and line your mix down the middle, and fold it together into a parcel making sure to join the pastry properly at the seams. You can now cut lattice scores in the pastry on top. Brush with egg wash and pop it in the oven.

When the pastry is cooked, you are ready to roll. Just before taking the pie out of the oven, melt a third of a packet of butter. The lattices should have opened up, and you can pour some of the butter into the pastry cuts. Now slice and serve with spring vegetables, and melted butter for pouring. Happy trout season.

William Church

Born and raised in the Essex countryside, will has been fishing since the age of 7. He has a particular love of fly fishing in rivers, however is not averse to using just about any method for any fish in any water where there’s.. Read more.

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