Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Warm, wonderful salmon "shepherd's" pie

At the fish counter this morning, I was thoroughly seduced by the wild-caught sockeye salmon from Alaska. I know, I know, Alaska is in no way, shape, or form local, so I failed on that front. But at least it’s in season. And honestly, how could anyone resist this color? Just look at that gleaming, opalescent orangey-red. It begs to be savored.

As a painter, I am a sucker for color. Here’s a case in point:

So I sprang for the salmon. Then I had to think of something to do with it. You can’t leave something that beautiful hanging around. I considered grilling, roasting in the oven, a quick sear—no, no, no. Nothing I could think of seemed able to fill the cravings I had. I wanted potatoes, but I didn’t just want to serve potatoes with my salmon. Something pie-like started creeping into my imagination. I scouted around on the web looking for fish pie recipes and found this one from Jamie Oliver, and, using it as a stepping-off point, I came up with this salmon shepherd’s pie (which makes no sense really, no sheep in the sea, but there you go). 

First step was to create some mashed potatoes to top this lovely thing. I had some beautiful red-skinned potatoes purchased from the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago (although Yukon Golds would do nicely as well). I decided to leave the skins on and make the mash nice and chunky to give the pie a rustic feel and some texture. 

I scrubbed and cut up the potatoes into chunks and boiled them for about 30 minutes, until they were fork tender. Then I strained them into a bowl:

Added a generous sprinkling of salt:

And some cream (about a half cup) and a tablespoon of butter:

Then smashed the lot with the back of a spoon:

Until I got a nice creamy, lumpy mess that tasted oh so good (if you need to, add more salt):

While the potatoes cooled a bit, I started on the rest of the dish. First I grated three carrots coarsely on a box grater:

Sprinkled them on the bottom of a buttered glass baking dish:

Then grated some sharp cheddar cheese and added that to the dish with the carrots:

Next, I turned my attention to the salmon, removing the skin and cutting it into bite-size pieces:

I added the fish to the dish with the carrots and the cheese, sprinkled salt and white pepper, and squeezed half a lemon over it all:

Next, I spread the smashed potatoes over everything and grated some more sharp cheddar over the top :

Finally, I popped the whole thing into a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes, turning the oven to broil for the last few minutes to get the top nice and brown:

And finally sprinkled some parsley on top (dry is what I had, but fresh would be lovely) and served it with a nice Swedish cucumber salad:

My husband and I had seconds. I was even tempted to have thirds, but resisted. My four-year-old ate everything on his plate, not with great praise, but he ate it (and that means a lot). Me, I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I haven't decided whether to share them with Mike or not...  


  1. loved this recipe - made it last night! there were not enough left overs to enjoy.. going to make a double ration next time ;)
    didn't have fresh salmon and the thawed bit looked lifeless and lumpy when cut up into bite-sized pieces.. but once it cooked it was perfect!

    1. I am so excited that you enjoyed it! It's definitely one of my favorites, so warm and filling.

  2. Fantastic recipe !!! It was just what I was looking for and the pics were super easy to follow making it quick for me and realistically engaging. Made it today for the first time and it was an instant hit!! We added a bit of homemade canned onions, homemade relish and capers to the salmon and sprinkled pepper on the top of the dish. Yummmmy! I could see adding even more veggie filler to the dish, maybe asparagus or leek and topping with parsley or cilantro. Thanks again for putting this one out!