I was probably 11 or 12 when I first made this. It’s probably the first recipe I made up by myself and by using leftovers from the previous night.
This was about the time I realised I had full agency in the kitchen. It was my space to create and express myself. It was my blank canvas.
Granted it’s not a difficult dish to pull off but now that I’m older I realise it’s something quite amazing for a pre-teen to conceptualise and pull off. Go Young Me! It was apparently good enough for three adults to finish off (they just left me a very small piece to taste when I got back from playing outside).
You don’t have to use leftover snoek. You can fry some especially for this dish but if you have a couple of pieces leftover, they’ll make a great full meal the next day.
The bottom layer of the dish is pastry. I always use my mom’s homemade flaky pastry, but you can use shop bought and ready-rolled if it’s easier. It’s basically a layer of pastry topped with a braised snoek mix and that’s topped with a thick bechamel with an an egg stirred into it for added richness.
It’s baked until the pastry is cooked and the bechamel firms and turns a lovely golden brown colour on top.
- Enough puff pastry to line a pie dish
- For the filling
- 1 onion
- 15 ml olive oil
- 1 red chilli (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic
- Half a grated tomato
- 10 ml tomato paste
- 15 ml lemon juice, plus zest of half the lemon
- 4 pieces of fried snoek, flaked (bones removed)
- Salt and pepper
- Parsley, chopped
- For the sauce-topping
- 30 ml butter
- 30 ml flour
- 375ml milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 180°.
- In a pan, braise onion in olive oil until onions become translucent. Then add garlic and chilli and continue to cook until garlic softens. Season to taste.
- Stir in the tomato and tomato paste and cook for a minute before adding the flaked snoek. Makes sure the snoek is coated with the braised onion and tomato mix.
- Lastly add in lemon juice and zest and give it another stir.
- For the sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for about two minutes – until you get the raw flour taste out. Use a whisk to prevent lumps.
- Add hot milk, continuing to whisk as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add seasoning. Allow to cool before whisking in the egg.
- To assemble: Place pastry at the bottom of a round pie dish. Top with snoek filling mixture. On top of that pour the sauce and bake until pastry is cooked and the topping is golden and set.
- Serve with a side salad.