2022 Contest semi-finalist, Laith Amin writes, "My recipe is inspired by the legend of fisherman Tom Bawcock, a 16th century fisherman from a small town called Mousehole (population 700) in the far South West of England.
Each year on December 23rd, Mousehole (where I grew up) comes alive with lanterns and pre-Christmas celebrations to celebrate the Bravery of Tom Bawcock, who saved the town from certain starvation some 500 years ago.
Mousehole today is a picturesque quaint Cornish fishing village with cobbled streets even too narrow for cars, and in Tom Bawcock's time it would have been totally reliant on the catch for food, but that year a lengthy spell of bad weather grounded the fishing fleet for long enough to bring the town to starvation.
The legend describes that Tom landed an enormous catch of pilchards and haddock on December 23rd that year, after secretly venturing out to brave the storm, and this is something that is celebrated every year in Mousehole at Christmas time as the town comes together to eat fish pie in Tom's honor.
Here is my recipe for Cornish fish pie! It adapts wonderfully to locally sourced seasonal American ingredients and pays respect to the fishermen of Alaska who brave harsh weather to bring us the finest fish in the world.
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
½ cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2½ cups whole milk
2 salmon fillets, (12 to 14 ounces total) skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1½-inch pieces Available In Our Seafood Subscription Box
2 rockfish, Pacific cod, or lingcod fillets (12 to 14 ounces total), cut into 1½-inch pieces Available In Our Seafood Subscription Box
3 oz hot or cold smoked salmon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
8 ounces sharp melting cheese such as gruyere or sharp cheddar, shredded (2 cups)
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh chives and dill
Make the Mashed Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 400°F and position a rack in the center position.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the sour cream and 2 tablespoons of the butter and mas. Season with salt & pepper and set aside.
Make the White Sauce
This is the pie filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the cornstarch and whisk until it becomes a relaxed smooth liquid. Slowly add the milk, whisking as you go until it starts to simmer and thicken. The sauce should be thick but pourable. Remove from the heat and add half of the shredded cheese. At this point, you might feel like the sauce is too thick, but keep in mind that the fish will add some moisture back in later. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble and Bake
Pour the sauce into a 2 quart baking dish and scatter the salmon, white fish, and smoked salmon evenly on top. Sprinkle half of the chopped herbs over the fish. Finally, spread that yummy mash over the surface of your dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs.
Bake it for 20 to 30 mins, or until the cheese is looking melty golden brown and you can't resist the aroma any longer. Let cool slightly before serving. Serve with your favorite vegetables - I like steamed asparagus but I can also recommend a British style pea puree: boiled green peas, a spoonful of sour cream, a clove of garlic and salt, all pulsed together in a food processor a few times.