You shall have a Fishy, on your Little Dishy...
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Diary and Notes
"Thar she blows!" Suddenly the Peaquad became alive with activity. Men scurried here and there, gathering rope and harpoons, others drew salt sea water and threw it on the decks in preperation for the gallons of oil that the great white herring would yield. "She's a beauty sire, at least a full six inches long." Six inches, could this be true? Could this be the one, the great Moby Herring of which legend spoke? The fiercest of all the fishes in the North Atlantic. I caught a glimpse of old Ahab as I ran passed to my boat, his eyes stared straight, white and emotionless, yet seeming perfect similacra of the black, hate filled orbs, of the demon herring which we had hunted these past two years.
"Hard wheel to larboard." Ahab spoke withough shouting, but even through the noise and the chaos, the words carried and were obeyed as though from Jove himself. "Lower my boat too, I'm taking the fray. Call up my men below." There was a break in time, as every man on the Peaquad stopped for only a brief moment, almost imperceivable. We all knew this was the one, this was the time. Today we fought not with a beast of the sea, but with the very Kraken herself. Today nature and man would collide, the old 'gainst the new, raw power and hatred, against the cunning and guile of our old, battle scarred captain. In Ahab's eyes you could see the determination. He looked down at his leg to where the stump was and spat. "I will have a limb made from your bone." I heard him whisper, "I will grow back my little toe."
Yes, today I was Starbuck, doing great battle with the mighty Moby Herring. 'Twas a viscious tussle and though I am now scarred, I was the victor and I feasted on his tasty flesh. OK, so I bought a few fresh herring fillets and made a lot of fuss, but it was worth the massive expense (1.69 euros) for such a delicious feast and a good salty sea dog story is always worth reading while your watching you pie bake.
Now as far as I know fish pie is a parculiarly English dish (maybe the Norwegians make it too, it has both fish and potatoes, so it's right up their street). When my American friend Carrie saw what I was doing, she was revulsed by the fact that I was using fish with skin still on (what sort of blithering, landlubber would try to skin a herring?). I offered some dinner to my friend Thomas (he's from Berlin) and he seemed mightily impressed with today's offering, but explained that in Germany, nobody puts mashed potato on something and then bakes it in the oven. Why not? Maybe they just haven't thought of it.
But what Thomas did think of was well worth the sharing of my food. We were eating our superb fish pie and he said "This would be really good with a little nutmeg." And how right he was. I myself would have never thought of it, but a little nutmeg was just the ticket. Luckily I had some in (it wasn't freshly grated from the nut, but was better than nothing). So if you have some nutmeg, have a little sprinkle with your fish pie too, it really is a delight.
Today's fish pie has a few other extra flavours besides the nutmeg. It's not normal to use horseradish with fish in England and having both this and capers may seem a little odd. It was however quite a gorgeous fish pie and I haven't had one finer in a long while. The ingredients are as cheap as can be, but the final dish is a delight. All hail the might Moby Herring, though any of his fishy freinds; Toby Cod, Joby Whiting or even Looby Pollack would have served just as well.
And if you were wondering, Grüner Vetliner is an Austian grape variety and the dry white wine made from it is pretty good.
Tortoise: A very sweet marhsmallow filled wafer with chocolate. Supposed to be in the shape of a tortoise but looked more like a starfish with stubby legs.
Peas and Carrots,
Dark German Bread.
Cheese and Salami.
Potatoes, herring fillets, brocolli, leeks, olive oil, butter, milk, creme fraiche, capers, creamed horseradish, white wine, salt, pepper, nutmeg.
Peel, wash and chop some potatoes, boil in salted water until they begin to break up. While they're a-bubblin' away blanch some brocolli in boiling water and then rinse under a cold tap (keeps them green). Finely chop the leeks and fry them in a little olive oil until soft. Add some butter to the leeks, melt the butter, then stir in some plain flour to make a leeky roux. Add milk and stir. When all the roux has dissolved and the sauce begins to thicken add some white wine, a goodly spoon of creamed horseradish, salt and pepper. When the wine has mixed in and everything is smooth, stir in some creme fraiche and cook a little longer. When the sauce is cooked and the potatoes boiled, make the pie by placing the chopped herring and blanched brocolli in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle some pickled capers over the fish then pour over the bechemel sauce and finally top with really fluffy mashed potatoes (I mashed mine with butter, cream, salt and pepper, then passed the mash through a sieve to eliminate any lumps). Make sure the mash covers everything and then use a fork to make little mountains in the mash (the extra surface area allows for better browning and texture). Bake the pie in an oven for about 1/2 an hour until the mash is browned on top. When you serve, sprinkle a little nutmeg over each portion as it's served.