“…the gods of Olympus ….watched tirelessly over the master of Roccapendente and his family – who, for their part, heads down and jaws going at full tilt, were tearing apart a fish pie of colossal dimensions and completely ignoring all that beauty”.
The Art of Killing Well, Marco Malvaldi
Don’t ask me why I think this is Brazilian – I’m a little hazy on that subject – suffice to say that I got the idea for it from something I tried when I was there earlier this year, and then when I returned I experimented and made further amendments (adding the hollandaise for example).
It got enough votes of appreciation that I made triple quantities for a slightly surreal dinner party to which I’d invited a couple of people I hadn’t seen for twenty years; many who didn’t know each other; guests with ages ranging from 25 to 65; and even one intrepid invitee who I hadn’t ever met before. The pie passed this test also with flying colours and I basked in the warm, united approval of the disparate miscellany around the table.
In particular the mustard and parmesan-laced mash that blankets the fish in this recipe is the main contributor to this pie’s popularity.
Why Popeye? Well, it’s got fish (the salmon, obviously) in it… and spinach.
Recipe for Brazilian Popeye Pie
For four hungry people
- 660g/ boneless salmon fillets
- 80g/⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed with one tsp smoked salt
- 240g/8 oz ready-washed spinach
- A few grinds of nutmeg (buy this grater if yours keeps falling apart)
- 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 120ml/½ cup crème fraîche
- 200g/7 oz ready-made, ideally fresh, otherwise in a jar, hollandaise sauce
- 700g/1½ lbs mashed potato – you can use instant if you use this method
- Generous grinds of Indonesian long pepper and more smoked salt
- 1 generous tsp Dijon mustard
- 50g/½ cup grated parmesan
- Couple of knobs of butter
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Grease a medium-sized ovenproof dish
- Oil and season the salmon and then fry it in a flat-bottomed wok (or if you don’t have one, a big frying pan) for about five minutes (turn once) – the flesh should no longer be translucent, but you don’t want to overcook it. Take out, leave to cool, and flake into the ovenproof dish.
- In the same wok lightly fry the garlic for a minute or two. Take out with a fish slice (go here if you’re looking for a good fish slice) and add to the flaked fish mix.
- Add the spinach; more seasoning and some generous grinds of nutmeg; and a couple of knobs of nutmeg – cook a couple of minutes to wilt, and add to the fish.
- Fry the shallot for a few minutes until it starts to go translucent. Add the mustard and the crème fraîche and just warm through gently (don’t boil or it will separate).
- Mix well into the fish. Add in the hollandaise sauce. Stir in well.
- Meanwhile, make the instant mashed potato, and top the flattened down fish mixture with it.
- Dot with a little more butter, and sprinkle over the cheese.
- Cook in the oven for about half an hour – the cheesy crust should have turned deep golden, slightly caramelly. If it hasn’t, turn up the heat to 210°C and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
This post is dedicated to Marcella Saads