11-20: Pastry Fish with Shrimp

If you happen to have a “pastry fish” laying around, here’s a good use for it (I know you’ve been waiting for someone to tell you what to do with it). 11-20: Pastry Fish with Shrimp is so 1980s that I think we can bring it back around again for a 2020s-era reboot–this just screams “novelty food that looks better than it tastes”.

Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Great British Baking Show (or Great British Bake Off, as it is known in its native UK) on Netflix lately, but this sounds like a wacky cooking challenge just waiting to happen.

If you don’t happen to have a “ready-made pastry fish” available (and you can’t find them anywhere since apparently they only existed in the late 1980s when this book was written), you can follow the advice in the TIPS box and make your own. It’s very “draw the rest of the owl” when it comes to actual instructions on how to do this, but do the best you can, I suppose.

The closest I could find to “ready-made fish pastry” in 2020-21 was taiyaki, which while delicious, is not really what they’re asking for here.

Ingredients. I don’t have “real” cream or half-and-half, so this “barista edition” oat milk will have to do. I do have real butter though, so this is going to be a weird combo.

I also don’t know why I have mushrooms instead of onions, but apparently that’s what I did. Those things aren’t interchangeable, but this was pandemic cooking, so I think it just kind of happened anyway.

As mentioned, we’re going to have to create the pastry fish using puff pastry sheets, a reference picture off the iPad, and some creativity.

I suppose that’ll have to do. It’s at least recognizable as a fish.

It’s also backwards from their picture, but who cares at this point.

PRO TIP: Bake the pastry fish NOW–don’t wait until you’re ready to fill it, and DEFINITELY don’t try to bake it from raw with the filling in it. If you want it to be golden/glossy like the one in their picture (and not like the one in mine), add an egg wash.

Sautéeing the random mushrooms with the curry powder. Simply Delicious has a real penchant for curry + fish.

I cut up the cod into chunks, otherwise known as “even pieces”. Smaller than that, they’ll flake apart; bigger than that and it’ll be more than bite-size.

Cooking over low heat, as directed.

While the cod cooked, I worked on prepping the shrimp. In this case, that means defrosting/detailing.

And before you get on me for using frozen shrimp, I’m here to tell you (from experience) that some of your favorite restaurants are doing the EXACT same thing (and charging you full fare for it). Unless it’s a seafood restaurant, odds are your “Add Shrimp: $8.00” menu option is the same stuff I’m using in the picture.

Added in the flour.

And the “half-and-half” (actually oat milk).

Finally, I added in the prepped (and defrosted) shrimp. Don’t throw the shrimp in frozen–you’ll end up with a soggy mess.

While the rest of the filling held at low heat, I started a new pan for wilting the spinach.

It always floors me that spinach can go from this…

…to this in just a few minutes. I always think I have too much, and I’m always proven wrong.

The pastry fish should be baked by now, so you can reheat if needed and start filling it. If it isn’t, GO do that, and don’t put the filling in it until it’s baked (and perhaps slightly cooled). THIS IS WHY I TOLD YOU TO BAKE IT FIRST.

Put your filling in your BAKED fish pastry, starting with the spinach.

There is something really weird about stuffing a pastry fish with real fish.

Place the top on, and marvel at your pastry fish skills.

Final picture–I’m not going to show you it cut up, mostly because I don’t have any pictures of that, but also because it felt mean to cut it. This is why I don’t like food that looks like what it is. However, I suppose it’s impressive as pastry fish go.

If you need something that looks better than it tastes (it’s not that great), Pastry Fish is your ride-or-die. Long live Pastry Fish. ?

Grade: B