Salmon & Spinach Pie Recipe

A healthy brunch tart.


2-1/4 lb. spinach
Four 6-oz. salmon fillets*
3 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 cups milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of dried thyme
Scant 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
7 oz. basic pie dough, thawed if frozen
Salt and pepper

* Alternatively, you can use trout or a smoked fish such as haddock.


Step 1: Put the spinach into a saucepan with just the water clinging to leaves after washing and cook for 5-10 minutes, then drain well. Squeeze out the excess moisture and chop.

Step 2: Put the fish** into a shallow saucepan, pour in water to cover, add a pinch of salt and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the fish with a spatula, discard the skin and flake the flesh. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a pie dish with butter.

Step 4: Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk and 2 ladlefuls of the reserved cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the nutmeg and thyme and remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cheese, cream, spinach and salmon.

Step 5: Roll out the pastry dough into a round on a lightly floured counter and use to line the prepared pie dish. Line with a sheet of parchment paper, fill with baking beans or pie weights and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Remove the baking beans and paper from the pastry shell.

Step 6: Spoon the spinach and salmon mixture into the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes.

Step 7: Remove the pie from the oven and serve warm.

** Basic Techniques

Trimming, Scaling & Cleaning: Nearly all fish need to be trimmed, scaled, and cleaned before eating. A fish supplier can prepare the fish for you, but the techniques are simple enough for you to try it at home, too. This scaling technique can be used for all fish that have a thick layer of scales including sea bass, trout, salmon, and grey (striped) mullet. Some fish, such as hake, do not need scaling.

Step 1: Place the fish on an easy-to-clean surface or chopping (cutting) board. To trim the fish, use scissors to remove all the fins around the body. The easiest way to do this is to cut in the direction from tail to head.

Step 2: To scale the fish, use a scaler or the back of a knife and brush vigorously from tail to head. Be careful to remove scales on the back and belly, which is the point of entry for the knife for gutting and filleting. This procedure can be done in a plastic bag to catch the scales.

Step 3: Turn the fish over, place it on its back and cut the throat of the fish. This will give a point of exit for the knife when gutting. To release the gills, slip your fingers under the gills and pull them away. Be careful because they can be sharp.

Step 4: To gut the fish, insert the point of a filleting knife at the anal vent (the small hole two-thirds of the way down the fish) and run the knife along the belly to the gills in one action. Lift out and discard the entrails and remove any traces of the blood line, which is a dark line of blood running along the spine.

Filleting & Skinning Round Fish: When filleting or skinning fish, keep the knife clean and sharp for a much cleaner and safer cut. Use long sweeping strokes wherever possible and aim to cut away from your body. The simple technique works for all round fish such as mackerel, sea bass, sea bream and salmon.

Step 1: Make diagonal cuts into the back on both sides of the fish head to form a ‘V’-shaped cut. Snap the head off by bending it back away from the body. Keeping the knife flat, cut into the skin of the top fillet above the dorsal fin and along the back. Use long sweeping cuts from head to tail to reveal the back bone. Insert the tip of the knife at the tail end and cut down to the tail to release the underside of the fillet. Release the remaining fillet by cutting over the rib bones in short smooth strokes towards the belly to release the fillet completely from the bone.

Step 2: To remove the second fillet, turn the fish so that tail is pointing away from you. Support the belly of the fish with your free hand. Keeping the knife flat, cut into the skin along the back of the fish just above the dorsal fin and repeat the action as for the first side.

Step 3: To remove the skin, use a flexible knife and start at the tail end or thinnest part of the fish fillet. Using the middle of the blade, cut into the fillet as far as the skin. Pulling the skin taut with your other hand, shave the fillet from the skin using a gentle sawing action, keeping the knife angled slightly downwards towards the skin.

Removing Pinbones from a Fillet: Pinbones are ‘floating’ bones that are found in the centre of the thickest part of round fish fillets and are not attached to the main skeleton of the fish. The amount of pinbones in each fish will differ and they are generally found in the top third of the fillet and never in the tail end.

Step 1: Locate the pinbones by lightly brushing the surface of the fish with your fingers.

Step 2: Using pinbone removers or wide blade tweezers, grasp the top of each pinbone firmly. Pull the bone away from the fillet in the direction that it is lying.

See more recipes from Fish.

Reprinted with permission from The Silver Spoon’s Fish, $49.95 (2012 Phaidon).