Fish pie recipes are passed down the generations in Cornish seafaring families to help make the most of the fishermen’s haul. And at The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth, executive chef Nick Hodges serves his own granny’s fish pie to guests
You will need
Leek 1, finely chopped
Flour 1 tbsp
White fish 500g, diced
Salmon 200g, diced
Parsley 30g, chopped
Eggs 4, boiled, peeled and quartered
For the topping
Potatoes 2 kg, peeled and diced
Milk to taste
Butter to taste
Cheddar cheese to top, grated
- Preheat the oven to 180°c / gas 4.
- For the filling: melt the butter in a pan, add the leek and sweat off the excess liquid.
- Gradually add the flour to the mixture, until it binds with the butter. Slowly add the milk so the mixture becomes liquid.
- Remaining on the heat, hand whisk the liquid until the flour has been completely cooked out. Add the diced fish and take off the heat.
- Once cooled, add the parsley and eggs then season with salt and pepper. Fill half of the pie dish with this mixture.
- For the topping: put the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and boil until soft.
- Mash the potatoes with milk and butter until smooth. Pipe on top of the pie filling and top with grated cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the mash turns golden brown.
‘Granny Alice Hodges [née Brown] was born into a Falmouth maritime family and grew up surrounded by seamen,’ says Nick. ‘Her father was a sailor and sometimes raced the huge J Class yachts and even crewed for the King.
‘Alice’s brothers Wally and Charlie were fishermen, while her brother Bill worked at Falmouth dockyard,’ continues Nick, ‘And they were all members of the Falmouth Lifeboat crew.’
Wally and Charlie were both coxswains, and Wally was honoured for bravery and seamanship, however Alice wasn’t cut out for the sea and, like many young girls of the era, went into service.
‘The Falmouth area offered many opportunities for employment, as the rich and famous lived here in very big houses by the sea,’ says Nick. It was at one such large Mawnan house that Alice became a cook for a family and was encouraged to create her own recipes and menus. ‘It turned her into a superb cook,’ says Nick.
Alice lived to the ripe old of age of 96 and even in her later years continued to regale her grandsons with fond memories of her time at the stove.
‘Today, our guests at The Greenbank get to enjoy Granny Alice’s fish pie with its chunks of white fish and salmon in a creamy sauce topped with mashed potatoes,’ says Nick. He’s shared Alice’s original recipe so food readers can make it at home and experience a taste of Falmouth history.