Pike & lobster pie

Pike and lobster pie

serves 10

"Adapted from the FT Weekend Magazine, 1 December 2012 (here). We have made a few short cuts from the original version set out by Rowley Leigh in the magazine. For instance, we use rock lobster tails where he used native lobsters. But we have included his ingenious anti-soggy pastry device (aka pancakes) and generally, we think you'd be hard pushed to taste the difference. This is a large pie, but it would be a pity to go to all this effort and wish you'd made a bit more. It will taste just as good the following day.

Ingredients

  • 800g pike fillet
  • about 600g rock lobster tails
  • 10 chives
  • a little chervil
  • 1 tsp tarragon leaves
  • 500g puff pastry
  • 2 egg whites and 3 whole eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  • Tabasco sauce
  • a little lemon juice
  • 1 egg beaten with a little milk
  • 1 shallot
  • half a carrot
  • dash of brandy
  • glass of dry white wine
  • 1 litre double cream

Method

  1. First, prepare the ingredients. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add plenty of salt. Boil the lobster tails for five minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Chop the herbs finely.
  2. Cut the pike meat into small pieces and puree in a food processor. Taking a spoonful at a time, force it through a sieve to remove any remaining bones. This will take a while. When you have finished, put it in a fridge for several hours.
  3. Make a pancake batter by whisking the eggs and flour together with salt and white pepper. Dilute with milk until thin. Add half the chopped herbs. Make several large pancakes.
  4. Cut the lobsters top to tail. Remove meat and cut into 1cm chunks. Retain the shells.
  5. Set up a bowl in a bowl arrangement, with ice in the lower bowl to keep the inner bowl very cold. Put the pike mixture in the inner bowl. Add cream spoonful by spoonful and beat it in. This is hard work. Using a soft spatula, regularly scrape the mixture from the side of the bowl into the mass. Keep going until you only have 200ml of cream left. Save this for later. When you have a homogeneous mass, season with two piches of salt, three drops of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon juice. Now fold in the lobster and remaining herbs.
  6. Roll out the pastry to about 35cm x 30cm. That should be about 3mm thick. Place it on greaseproof paper. Square off the pancakes and place them on the pastry, overlapping a bit. Now add the fish mixture. Shape it like a fish, pointed at one end and with some spare pastry at the other for the tail. Fold up the pastry, brushing liberally with egg and milk mix. Join up and trim off excess pastry.
  7. Turn your creation over EVER SO CAREFULLY so that you have no sign of the join. Put your artistic side to work: carve scales, an eye, and perfect the nose and tail. Give it a brush of egg and milk then keep in your fridge until the time comes to cook it.
  8. Now make the sauce. Chop up the lobster shells and fry them in a splash of olive oil. Add the brandy and set alight. Add the wine. In a separate pan, heat up the (chopped) carrot and shallot with the butter. When soft, squeegee all the contents of the lobster shell mixture except the shell itself into this mix and simmer for 10 minutes. Now add 200ml of cream and turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring regularly. Season, strain and keep warm.
  9. To cook the pie, pre-heat your oven to 180C. Before it goes in, apply a final wash of egg and milk mix. It will need about 40 minutes but keep an eye on it, turning it around if necessary to ensure even browning. Give it a ten minute rest before serving.

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