Hake, haddock and romanesco bake

by Ed Smith

A quick-to-make riff on a classic, potato-topped fish pie

This is a quick-to-make riff on a classic, potato-topped fish pie—comforting on a cold night yet still refined, and light enough to be part of a larger meal. You can assemble the dish well in advance, baking to order when required. It’s good on its own, though wilted spinach, kale or chard will prove a fine accompaniment.


1 small romanesco broccoli (400–500g), outer leaves removed and florets cut from stem
300g full-fat creme fraiche
70g finely grated parmesan
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
25g brined capers, drained and roughly chopped
5 sprigs of tarragon, leaves picked and roughly chopped
400g hake (or other unsmoked white fish like pollack), skinned and pin-boned
300g un-dyed smoked haddock, skinned and pin-boned
80-100g dry breadcrumbs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and preheat the oven to 220C. Cut the romanesco stem into 2-3cm dice (you can use almost all of it) and halve any florets that are much bigger than the pieces of stem. Blanch the florets and diced stem in the boiling water. After 2 mins add the outer leaves and cook for a further 1 min. Drain through a sieve then leave under cold running water until cool.

Meanwhile, decant the creme fraiche into a large mixing bowl. Add 50ml tepid water and whip or whisk together with a spatula or balloon whisk. Add the parmesan, Dijon mustard, capers and tarragon. Stir well and set to one side.

Check the fish for bones then cut into 3-4cm chunks. Combine the fish chunks and the drained and cooled broccoli with the creme fraiche (it might not seem as though there’s enough sauce, but it will thin out as it cooks). Transfer the fish and broccoli to an ovenproof dish, ideally snug enough for the fish and broccoli pieces to sit in two layers. Ensure the different components are evenly distributed, particularly the leaves.

Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl, add a heavy pinch of flaky sea salt and the olive oil and use a fork to combine. Spoon the breadcrumbs evenly over the fish mix then place towards the top of the oven and bake for 25 mins, until the top is golden, the sauce is bubbling through, and the fish is just cooked and not yet dry. Remove from the oven and serve straight away.

If you do assemble the dish in advance and store it in the fridge, you may need to add 5-10 mins to the cooking time.

Image: Issy Croker