If you are looking for a cozy, comforting seafood recipe, look no further than this British-inspired Fish Pie! It’s loaded with salmon, halibut, and shrimp, though you can certainly use any fish or seafood you love most.
The very best part of our fish pie recipe is the creamy béchamel sauce (one of the Five French Mother Sauces) made with lots of fresh tarragon. It is divine!
We like to top it off with flaky, crunchy fillo dough, but puff pastry or mashed potatoes are great options too. We think you’ll love this for a Feast of the Seven Fishes entrée or really any cool winter evening. It’s hearty, flavorful, and seriously impressive!
- Aromatics: Sauté thinly sliced leeks (or shallots) in butter, then flavor with a fresh minced garlic. We love to use leeks, as they have a mild onion flavor.
- A mix of fresh seafood: salmon, halibut, and extra large shrimp!
- Fish stock: Seafood stock or shellfish stock is a great way to add even more seafood flavor to this recipe, versus using simply water.
- Whole milk or heavy cream: To create the body of the cream sauce.
- All-purpose flour: To create the roux, which is the base of cream sauces. This is made with equal parts butter and flour.
- Flavorings for the cream sauce: Lots of fresh parsley and tarragon, though you can certainly substitute with other herbs. Fresh dill would be fantastic! Dijon mustard, which adds a little tang! Lemon zest: Lemon and seafood are a match made in heaven. The lemon zest adds a bright, citrus flavor to the dish! And of course Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to season everything!
- Frozen peas: A staple in fish pie!
- Phyllo dough, puff pastry, or mashed potatoes: to top the fish pie before baking! If using phyllo or puff pastry, you’ll also want some egg wash, made with 1 beaten egg and a splash of milk or heavy cream.
Equipment: This was cooked in our large Staub braiser, but you can use a last cast iron skillet or any baking dish. Just make sure the seafood is in a single layer.
How To Make The Cream Sauce
Honestly, the cream sauce plays such a crucial role in this recipe! It starts off with a simple roux.
What is a roux? It’s a thickening agent used to make creamy sauces. It starts with equal parts fat (usually butter) and flour that are whisked together and cooked over medium-low to medium heat. Do not boil!
Next, you add liquid — in this case fish stock and heavy cream or milk — and continue to whisk until it thickens.
At that point, you can flavor the sauce however you like. Here, we’re adding lots of fresh tarragon, parsley, Dijon, lemon zest, Kosher salt, and black pepper. It’s seriously so delicious! While not part of the cream sauce recipe, we love to add English peas. Frozen is great (do not thaw, rinse, or drain), don’t go out of your way to get fresh peas unless they’re in season!
Assembling Fish Pie
First, you’ll want to sauté the aromatics — in this case, that’s leeks (or shallot) and garlic. Place them in a pan or baking dish, then top with cubed fresh pieces of seafood: salmon fillets, halibut or other firm white fish, and extra large shrimp (be sure to peel and devein, or buy already cleaned from the store!). All seafood should be raw at this point.
Pour the cream sauce and peas over the leek and fish mixture. This would taste amazing baked as is, but we’re going to give it a beautiful, crunchy phyllo dough topping that takes it over the top! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own phyllo at home!
Topping For Fish Pie
You’ve got some options here! You can place a piece of thawed puff pastry on top, brush with melted butter or an egg wash, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, fresh herbs, or black pepper, then bake… or you could even top the pie with mashed potatoes! Use a spoon to make a decorative swirl in the top before baking.
We love the texture of baked crispy phyllo dough, though, and think this makes for a beautiful presentation. Here’s how to do it at home:
Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a work surface, then brush with a little melted butter. Place another sheet on top, then cut into squares that are about 2×2″. Use your hands to gently fold the dough so that the corners are all pointing up, then pop it on top of the pie. A little extra work, but worth it for the WOW factor!
At this point, you’re ready to bake the fish pie. Cook until the top is golden brown and the seafood is fully cooked through (the fish should be tender and the shrimp should be sightly firm, but not chewy).
The sky’s the limit! Keep in mind that all seafood should be cut into similarly sized pieces, so something thin like trout might cook much quicker than a firm white fish, but beyond that, you can add or substitute any variety of fish or shellfish. Some suggestions to try: smoked haddock, hoki, cod, sea bass, scallops.
You can use a sheet of puff pastry or cooked mashed potatoes! Both of these are great options if you’re planning to prep or cook this fish pie recipe ahead of time.
Absolutely! The phyllo dough is obviously best on day 1, so if you are looking for leftovers where the topping is just as fresh and delicious as the day it was cooked, consider mashed potatoes instead!
Yes! When sautéing the leeks, you can add any other vegetables, such as fresh baby spinach, parboiled potatoes, zucchini, or other leafy greens.
Absolutely! We happen to live in the Northeast where fresh, high quality seafood is in abundance. If that’s not an option for you, or you simply happen to have fresh frozen seafood on hand, go that route. Make sure to thaw fully (overnight in a fridge or placed in a cool bowl of water until thawed) before using. Drain on paper towels to remove excess water and moisture before cooking with thawed seafood.
- Use whatever type of fish or seafood looks fresh! Don’t break the bank looking for halibut if there’s another fish that is fresh and affordable that you love. Similarly, if there’s a different size or variety of shrimp that looks great to you, use that instead.
- If using a smaller size shrimp, just keep the size in mind. A smaller shrimp will cook quicker than a larger one. With the extra large shrimp used here, I cut them into thirds so they’d be bite-size and also take around the same time to cook as the other seafood. You can leave smaller shrimp whole!
- Serve this the same day it’s made! The leftovers are completely delicious, there’s no doubting that, but the phyllo dough topping is definitely flakiest when it comes out of the oven the firs time.
Make Ahead And Storage
We recommend serving this the same day it’s made, as that’s the key to crunchy fillo dough. However, leftovers will keep for up to 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container in a fridge, and it can be reheated in a microwave. As noted above, we recommend mashed potatoes as a topping if planning to make this in advance.
A truly restaurant-quality, comforting dish, worthy of any special occasion or holiday gathering! If you make this Fish Pie recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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More seafood recipes to try!Crispy Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Parmesan Sauce Tender, Flaky Salmon en Papillote (Salmon in Parchment) Sicilian Swordfish with Olives, Tomatoes, Raisins Spaghetti alle Vongole (Pasta with Clam Sauce) Tender, Slow Baked Salmon with Compound Butter 35-Minute Baked Crab Stuffed Shrimp
British Fish Pie with Flaky Phyllo Dough
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 1-2 large leeks thinly sliced, about 2½ cups OR 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1½ cups fish stock
- 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon finely chopped (or dill)
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp fresh lemon zest about 1 lemon
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz frozen English peas
- 4 sheets phyllo dough
- 1 large egg
- ½ lb salmon skin removed, cut into 2" pieces
- ½ lb halibut or other white fish, such as sablefish, hake, haddock, or cod, cut into 2" pieces
- ½ lb extra large shrimp peeled, deveined, and cut into 1½ – 2" pieces
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Prepare the baking dish or pan. Preheat an oven to 400F. Grease a 3.5 QT pan (or larger cast iron skillet) with nonstick cooking spray, then set aside.
- Sauté the leeks. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add thinly sliced leeks (or shallots), then sauté until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic, then cook 1 minute more. Pour into the greased pan or skillet.
- Warm the stock and cream. Combine 1½ cups fish stock with 1 cup heavy cream in a saucepan, then bring to a gentle simmer.
- Make the cream sauce. Meanwhile, melt 4 Tbsp butter in the other saucepan (that you sautéed the leeks in), then whisk in ¼ cup AP flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, then whisk in the warm stock and cream mixture. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until you have a smooth, thick sauce, about 2 minutes more.
- Season the sauce. Add 2 Tbsp tarragon, 2 Tbsp parsley, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp fresh lemon zest, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper. Stir in 8 oz frozen peas until well mixed. Allow to cool slightly while you assemble the rest of the dish.
- Add the seafood. Arrange the seafood on top of the sautéed leeks in a single layer. Pour the slightly cooled cream sauce on top.
- Add the phyllo dough. Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter. On a large cutting board or other clean work surface, place 1 sheet of phyllo dough down, then brush a tiny bit of butter on top, just enough to adhere a second sheet of phyllo to it. Place the second sheet of phyllo on top, then brush with a tiny bit more butter. Use a sharp knife to cut into 12 equal squares, about 2" wide. Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of phyllo.
- Add the phyllo dough. Place each square of phyllo dough on top of the fish pie, crumbling it to fold and point the end pieces up (it'll kind of look like a flower). Cover the entire pie with phyllo. Doesn't have to be perfectly symmetrical!
- Cook the fish pie. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is piping hot and the phyllo is golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately!
- Leftovers: Store in an airtight container in a refrigerator for 3-4 days (cooked seafood has a shorter shelf life than other proteins).
- Reheating: Can be quickly reheated in a microwave! Note that if making ahead, we recommend topping seafood pie with mashed potatoes or puff pastry, as the phyllo dough is best enjoyed the day it’s cooked.
- Substitutions: Use the highest quality seafood you can! If that’s fresh seafood other than what is listed in the ingredients, switch it up! Just note that all fish fillets and shellfish should be cut into similarly sized pieces. If using frozen seafood, make sure to thaw completely (and possibly drain or pat dry with paper towels, as needed) to ensure as much excess water and moisture is removed as possible. Otherwise, the fish pie will have a loose texture, and we want it to stay thick and creamy!