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Fish pie recipe

A recipe from The Kookaburra Cookery Book, 1911, by the Committee of The Lady Victoria Buxton Girls' Club.

 

Notes from cook Margot Riley

Priced at half a crown, the Kookaburra Cookery Book of Culinary and Household Recipes and Hints was compiled in 1911 by the committee of the Lady Victoria Buxton Girls’ Club in Adelaide, South Australia. Well-known women from around the country contributed recipes, and the book was deemed to be of great value to housewives.

This fish pie recipe was submitted by Edith Knox, wife of Edward Knox Jnr, chairman and managing director of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. The couple raised four daughters at Rona, a splendid 1880s sandstone mansion in the eastern Sydney suburb of Bellevue Hill.

After trying the original recipe, I decided to use a mixture of milk and cream to give bit more richness to the sauce. For more flavour, I added a bed of buttered leeks as a base for the first fish layer. I also sprinkled the fish with chopped dill for freshness.

I based the quantity of fish, scallops and pastry on modern recipes and the capacity of my four-cup fish pie dish but worked to the original recipe for the sauce. I wanted a good amount of firm-fleshed white fish, and as my partner is allergic to prawns and I don’t like oysters, I used scallops instead.

No ingredients were listed for anchovy sauce, which was a commonly available condiment in the early 1900s and is still available today. As such a small quantity was required, I decided to make my own from a recipe in Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. I also chose not to double cook the fish — a common practice in nineteenth-century recipes for hygiene reasons that have been solved by modern refrigeration.