I have made many a pilgrimage along the coast of Australia in my search for my ideal fish and chips. This quest has led me to small town bakeries and iconic beachside chippers with offerings that rarely vary from venue to venue. On the coast of Tasmania, however, there is the welcome addition of the scallop pie. I have found the scallop pie in outlying areas, but it has held fast to its place, Tasmania.
Now, the scallop pie in its best form is an absolute delight. At its worst, it is not. Nearly all scallop pies use scallop meat (commonly with the roe on) with potato added, you would assume to increase quantity as the price of scallops rose. This filling is then bound in a flour-based sauce, spiked with curry powder. There are variations, of course, but this is the one you will find most.
In this recipe I have made the filling into a more French-style mousse, in order to showcase the scallop in its best light. A well-presented pie can be a dinner for all occasions. Feel free to reference pie tops from elaborate banquets of old. You could even carve out miniature versions of scallops and fish to preview what lies beneath the crust.
These days the idea of a pie made mostly of scallop meat may seem ludicrous. But back in the early days, scallops were a major trade coming out of many waterways, particularly in Tasmania. Scallops were being used as a protein, the same as oysters were, prior to the proliferation of ruminant animals. We now know the harm scallop farming can cause and as a result the process has got somewhat better. But it is still extremely destructive when not done using best practice.
The biggest key with a pie of any type is seasoning because once it is served, no feeble addition of salt can help. Season the pastry, season the filling. Then serve with something fresh and acidic and enjoy.
- 300g scallop meat (about 10 Hervey Bay scallops)
- 300g white fish, such as John Dory
- 1 egg white
- 100ml cream
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 bunch chives
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 sheet sour cream pastry
For sour cream pastry
- 300g plain flour
- 250g butter
- 100g sour cream
- broad beans
- sour cream
- sorrel leaves
- For the sour cream pastry: rub the flour and butter together, before mixing through the sour cream using the pulse setting on a food processor. Form into a ball then let set for one hour. Roll out between two greaseproof sheets to about 0.5-centimetre thickness.
- Preheat your oven to 170ºC.
- Place half the scallop meat and half of the fish, diced, into a chilled food processing bowl (I place mine in the freezer for 30 minutes but ice also works) then blend briefly until the mix is like a paste. Add the egg white and cream, then pulse the mix to bring it all together. It should look like a dough – bound and not sloppy.
- Place the remaining fish and scallops, chopped into one-centimetre dice, on top of the mousse mix, then add the curry powder and chopped chives, together with some salt. Fold this through gently without dispersing the curry powder throughout the mousse. Chill this mix for another 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, choose two pie moulds or ovenproof dishes about hand-size in diameter. Brush with butter and lay in the sour cream pastry. Mould the pastry into the sides and cut off the excess before docking the bottom with a fork and then glazing with a little egg wash. Bake at 170ºC for 12 minutes before removing from the oven and letting cool. Remove the pastry from the moulds now and flip the moulds over. Place the pastry over the top of the moulds so that the bottom is facing up. Glaze with egg wash and bake for a further 10 minutes on 180ºC. Remove this pastry case and let cool.
- Divide the mousse mixture between the two pastry cases, forming a dome inside the case. Brush egg wash around the rim of this pie base. Cut the puff pastry to approximate size then lay over the top. Push the edges over the sour cream base and trim any extra. Repeat for the other then place into the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from the freezer one by one and score any desired patterning into the top of the puff pastry. Glaze the top of this puff then bake at 185ºC for 22 minutes. Remove the pie and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with double-podded broad beans, some extra sour cream and chives and a few sour sorrel leaves.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 23, 2021 as "Top scallop".
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