Easter Fish Pie for Good Friday

martin cross By martin cross, 29th Mar 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Recipes>British

Fish on Friday has a long tradition. Here is a quick and easy to prepare cottage-style pie, a Good Friday tradition that can be enjoyed at any time.

A long Christian tradition

The choice of fish for the Friday meal has a long tradition in the Western Christian world. The fish was the very first Christian symbol and honours the first Apostles, fishermen and subsequently to be ‘fishers of men’. The choice of fish was designed as a means of abstaining from meat on Friday, the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. The strength of the tradition can be judged from the fact that meat-loving monks in the Middle Ages promoted the legend that the Barnacle goose hatched from a barnacle so that it would then be considered seafood and suitable to be eaten on Friday.

It is therefore not surprising that fish forms the basis of several traditional recipes for Good Friday itself, the day solemnly commemorating Christ’s crucifixion and looking forward to the joyful celebration of the Resurrection on the following Sunday. In Portugal, for instance, salt cod is the fish of choice for Good Friday. In British cuisine, white fish is combined into that quintessential British production, Cottage Pie, to create a dish whose simplicity reflects the solemnity of the feast. This dish is often termed ‘Fisherman’s Pie’ in emulation of its celebrated brother, ‘Shepherd’s pie’.

Ingredients for British Fish Pie

1 lb (454 g) of fillets from firm whitefish
2½ cups (20 oz / 600 ml) of milk
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp (1 ½ oz / 45 g) of butter
3 tbsp (1 ½ oz / 45 g) of flour
1 tsp of dried parsley
2 lb (900 g) of potatoes, peeled and cubed
Some cream or extra milk
2 – 4 tbsp (1-2 oz / 25-50 g) of butter
1 cup (4 oz / 110 g) of grated Cheddar cheese

How to make British Fish Pie

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Place the fish fillets in an ovenproof dish, pour over the milk, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for 15 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven, drain off the milk and reserve it in a bowl.
Flake the fish in the dish.
While the fish is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and blend in the flour.
Cook the mixture gently for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add some of the reserved milk until a thick sauce forms.
Add the parsley and season to taste.
Return the pan to the heat and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring continually.
Continue cooking for a moment or two more until the sauce has thickened a little more.
When the fish is cooked, drained and flaked, pour the sauce over the flaked fish.
In the meantime, boil the cubed potatoes in lightly salted water for 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and mash them with butter and a little milk or cream. Season with pepper.
Top the fish in sauce with the mashed potato and smooth the surface of the pie with a fork.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and return the dish to the oven.
Bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the top of the pie is golden brown.
Serve with a simple vegetable such as peas or green beans.


Alternatively, instead of the cheese, blend 8oz (225g) of puréed carrots or rutabaga into the mashed potato and season well with black pepper.

A mixture of white and smoked fish can also be used.


British Cuisine, Celebration Meal, Cottage-Style Pie, Easter Recipe, Fish Pie, Fishermans Pie, Good Friday, Holiday Meal, Potato-Topped Pie Recipe, Recipe

Meet the author

author avatar martin cross
I am a technical translator and writer, a former chef and marketeer, currently disabled. I write articles on food,, travel, politics, religion and technology among other topics.

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