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Protein from the sea: scallop and prawn pie May 16, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Seafood.
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While I tend to eat a fair amount of fish on a regular basis, sometimes I forget about other seafood when purchasing fish. As we are blessed with so many good markets in Melbourne, I cannot say this is the fault of my fishmonger but more my fault for not paying closer attention when I’m there! In my defense, it’s usually about 8am and I’m usually half asleep (you know you’re early when the fishmonger begins saying each week how early you are…).

My forgetfulness is particularly inexcusable when I also admit that I *love* all forms of seafood and would happily survive on crab, lobsters, scallops, prawns and mussels if I could. This time, I decided to pick up some scallops and prawns and turn them into some sort of pie. Rather than creating one big pie, I thought this time I would make individual servings.

I started by making the pastry. My standard pie pastry recipe – for either savoury or sweet – is Stephanie Alexander’s. I find it foolproof and easily adaptable. I made one portion of the recipe up, and put it in the fridge while I got to work making the filling for the pie.

I decided to experiment using a béarnaise sauce as the base for the pie filling, and then adding other ingredients to it. I made a fairly basic version of béarnaise sauce with vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper, egg yolks and butter. I knew I was going to be adding other things to it but wanted to get that basic combination of the vinegar and the eggs and butter together first.

After this sauce had come together, I reduced the heat to ensure it didn’t cool completely, but so it didn’t boil as this would curdle the eggs. I chopped up some parsnip and onion fairly finely, and added them to the sauce, stirring them in well. After they’d started to cook, I added the (chopped) prawns and scallops. Incidentally, I had purchased the prawns pre-shelled so I didn’t have the fun of having to de-shell them! I cooked the whole lot at a low temperature in the sauce.

While this mixture continued to cook, I began working on the pastry. One good thing about Stephanie’s pastry is that it’s very buttery which makes it supple and easy to work with. If there’s any holes, they can be plugged with extra pastry and then smoothed over. I rolled the pastry out between two sheets of greaseproof paper and then divided it into individual pieces for each of my small bowls / ramekins.

I put these in the oven at about 200°C for 15 minutes, until the pastry had cooked. For larger pies, I usually weigh down the pastry with something to ensure it doesn’t bubble up from the bottom (split peas work well for this). For these smaller pies, I didn’t bother, figuring they wouldn’t have much opportunity to rise up and that the mixture was heavy enough to push the pastry back down!

By this time, the filling had cooked. The sauce had thinned out a little, so I added some cornflour to thicken it. Then I spooned the mixture into the waiting bowls, trying to make the division between the bowls as even as possible.

I used the remaining pastry to make lids for each of the bowls, and laid each one down over the filling. I sealed each one to the edge and returned the pies to the oven for another 15 minutes.

My pies are perhaps not the most aesthetically pleasing in the world, but I am happy to report that these tasted great! I added some fresh basil on the top when I served them.

The béarnaise sauce provided a nice backdrop for the scallops and prawns, and was still present despite the longer cooking process. I was a bit worried that the parsnip would get lost in the mix so was pleased to see that its flavour came through and added a nice touch of sweetness. The pastry was light and flaky and overall I was pleased with how this had come out. I certainly won’t be forgetting about scallops and prawns again in a hurry!

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