Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recipe for Fish Pie - Bluefish that is!

In New Jersey, fall is the season of alligator bluefish. Surprisingly, bluefish have fallen out of favor in NJ as table fare, but we like them a lot. In particular we like a bluefish pie recipe very much. It requires a little effort to make, and looks deceptively simple, so you may not get as much credit as you deserve for making it, but it is delicious. It has come to the level of comfort food in our home. Some have chicken pot pie, we have fish pie.

Jennifer Paterson, one half of the Two Fat Ladies, said she thought that a fish pie was something you could serve that was "always admired".

We catch bluefish jigging, trolling, and wire line trolling in the fall. These are listed in order of preference. Jigging is the best, and we just enjoyed the fruits of our labors in the form of one of these delicious pies (or casserole).

This recipe is good with either fresh or frozen fish, and I prefer to use the big ones for this recipe.

This recipe is adapted from a Recipe Zaar recipe, (now here is the link Fish Pie Recipe - it can also be searched as recipe # 154590 - the original recipezaar number.

Note that it says Fish and Spinach Casserole .

My adaptation is as follows (alterations in red):

2 lbs hake fillets (see end of recipe directions for substitutions) (we use 3 1/2 lbs of bluefish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (8 ounce) bag fresh spinach -3 bags
  • 1 (4 ounce) package cheddar cheese, shredded 2 packages
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters) original was 2 eggs, we use 4 eggs
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped use 1 cup
  • 2 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed 4-5 potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste and a bit of salt

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
    2. In a large skillet saute together the fish filets, onion, celery and black pepper in the oil for approximately 10 min; set aside to cool slightly. I poach the fish until just done in water with parsley flakes, and sauté the veggies separately.
    3. Cook the spinach in a little water until limp; drain, squeezing out as much water as you can and set aside to cool.
    4. In a bowl combine the potatoes, the fish filet mixture and the egg substitute.
    5. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish and then begin assembling the casserole.
    6. First a layer of fish mixture, then a layer of spinach; then sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese.
    7. Next, a layer of the remaining fish mixture, then the remaining spinach, then the remaining cheddar cheese.
    8. Bake in the preheated 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes. more like 40 min.
    9. Variation: if you don't recognize the fish 'hake' -- you may substitute cod, flounder, haddock, pollock or tilapia in it's place.
    10. Variation: you can also swap out the cheddar cheese for another type such as mozzarella or monerey jack.
    I hope you'll enjoy your pie as much as we do. Note that is a crustless pie, often called a fisherman's pie in the UK, just as shepherd's pie is a crustless pie.
    I warn you, it takes longer to put together than you think, but you'll like it, and maybe we can bring bluefish back to the table!

    Sunday, October 20, 2013

    Why Fishing?

    Welcome to my exploration of why I fish, where I fish, and how I fish. My fishing is primarily along the mid - Atlantic coast.

    It is, at first glance, improbable, that I should be addressing this topic, or rather, blogging on any topic. I say this for several reasons. First, I grew up in a rural mountain area of Virginia - far removed from any salty coast. Second, I am not the most communicative person you are likely to meet.

    Susan's (Susan is my wife - pictured here with me) brother once described me as the most dour and taciturn person he knew - though, personally, I doubt it. I have also heard more than once that it is hard to read my expressionless face. And generally I don't contribute much to a conversation unless I feel that there is a glaring omission in the content of the topic under discussion. As this is not a psychological exploration, I guess we'll leave this side bar here, or let people who know me continue to deconstruct my personality traits.

    Obviously I am not the first to feel the pull of the sea and fishing. I find fishing, and the saltwater fishing that I primarily participate in, to be a consuming passion. The discovery came over time, as I have generally been a person of diverse and changing interests. I think that fishing has taken hold as it is a vehicle for exploration that touches so many very different interests to a depth limited only by your own curiosity.

    Men have always been moved and mystified by great waters. Norman Maclean, Author of "A River Runs Through It wrote that "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
    I am haunted by waters".

    And regardless of belief, it is no accident that the first words of the Bible are -

    "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."

    Anyone who has spent time on big waters has felt the "Spirit of God ... moving over the surface of the waters".

    Siddhartha, as related by Hermann Hesse, finds enlightenment in hearing the voice of the waters.

    People are moved by the primordial powers of the waters. The nameless, unknowable mystery and majesty of the boundless deep affect me every time I am upon those waters - and the connection to the endless, and sometimes overwhelming, marvels of nature is renewed each trip as well.

    To that, add the intellectual challenge of unlocking the secrets of finding and catching the days target, the joy of always learning new skills, the test of attention to detail and of always doing small things well, and the endless realms of science and knowledge to explore in informing your fishing endeavors, and we start to touch on the nature of my obsession with the world of saltwater fishing.

    As this blog develops, I hope to touch on the typical how to, why to, where to - but also on the broader contexts as well. I hope my journey is helpful to others, and that I can share in their journeys as well.

    In the beginning, posts will probably be infrequent, but will increase in frequency over time. And as this is a conversation, I will try to make sure that what I post is of value.