When Andrew McConnell, publican Anthony Hammond and head chef Josh Murphy first took over Melbourne’s Builders Arms Hotel, they asked their friends what they wanted to see on a pub menu. The answer: pie.
But rather than taking the predictable beef route, the team created this aromatic fish pie that’s now a McConnell signature.
“Writing a menu for a pub was something really new to both of us,” says Murphy. “We were trying to work out how to incorporate a fish dish into the menu and we’d always toyed with the idea of a fish pie.”
The fish pie was on the first menu when Builders reopened at the start of autumn 2012.
“We expected to take it off in summer but we just couldn’t, it was too popular,” admits Murphy. “It’s made it through multiple summers now and I don’t think we’ll ever take it off.”
For optimal results, we recommend pairing this dish with a cold beer and some hot chips. Murphy suggests taking the lid off, dropping the chips in and scooping them out with a fork to make the most of the sauce.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes
1 packet puff pastry (or enough to cover your chosen dishes)
300g ocean trout fillet, skin removed, cut into 6cm-long pieces
950g rockling fillet, skin removed, cut into 6cm-long pieces
6 large prawns, peeled and halved
12 large sorrel leaves, torn
½ cup chopped dill
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp capers, chopped
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp olive oil
3 brown onions, finely sliced
1 large fennel bulb, cored and finely sliced
6 prawn heads
180ml white wine
300g potatoes, peeled and sliced
625ml chicken stock
185ml thickened cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
For the sauce, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic and fennel until soft, about 5–6 minutes. Add the prawn heads and cook until pink, about 3–4 minutes.
Increase the heat, deglaze the pan with the wine and simmer for 3–4 minutes until almost totally reduced. Add the potatoes and stock and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender and the stock has reduced by two-thirds, about 15–20 minutes.
Add the cream, bring the mixture to the boil and turn off the heat. Remove the prawn heads.
Tip the mix into a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce and season to taste.
Cut shapes out of the puff pasty to top the pies with (6 x 500ml ramekins work well for this). Be sure to cut the pastry about 1cm wider than the dish all the way around.
Divide the seafood, herbs, lemon zest and capers between the pie dishes. Spoon about 200ml of the sauce into each dish and stir to distribute.
Dampen the edges of the bowls with a little water and place the pastry lids on top. Press the pastry lightly onto the dishes and brush with a little beaten egg.
Pierce a couple of holes through the top of each pie (to let the steam escape while cooking) and bake for 15¬–20 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fish is cooked.
This is an extract from The Broadsheet Melbourne Cookbook, which contains 80 recipes from the city’s best restaurants, cafes and bars.