Saturday, April 23, 2011

A (Good) Friday Fish Pie Adventure

It is Easter, and here at home, we Trinidadians love our holidays – especially long weekends. No doubt most households would have been cooking some type of fish stew yesterday. Back in the day my Grandmother was a stickler for the traditional Good Friday meal of provision and fish. She loved cooking tinned salmon with tomatoes, onions, chive and hot yellow pepper... yum!

The meal I was planning to cook yesterday was definitely fish oriented, but more for nostalgia’s sake than anything else. I had some shark fillets thawing out for our lunch which I was going to stew up and make a nice thick sauce to pour on some boiled potatoes, dasheen and plantain, together with some white beans and a simple salad. However, the lunch was never made.

You see, I was feeling for a nice hand-held fried pie for breakfast yesterday. If you’re not familiar with the fried pie, it’s one of those Trini staples that consist of a soft dough that’s filled with a tasty meat or vegetable filling, then fried in hot oil, drained and served with some tasty pepper sauce or others made from mango, pommecythere or tamarind. The most popular of these pies is the potato pie, followed closely by the beef/mincemeat version. After that, the fillings tend to get very creative and can include chicken, cheese, shredded carrot and cabbage, lentils or even split peas. Usually, the doubles vendors I patronise have beautiful, soft potato pies for sale, along with saheina, my next favourite East Indian snack made with split peas, dasheen bush and other seasonings. Of course, yesterday being Good Friday, the vendors were not out, so, I was going to have to do this on my own.

No matter. I was truly in the mood to knead some flour and enjoy a nice, tasty fish-filled pie. The only fish I had though, was some canned tuna and a pack of frozen white fish fillets. I could've gone either way, but the fillets would have taken more time since they’d need to be steamed, and then seasoned, but with the tuna, all I needed to do is just open the cans.

But before doing that…

I started off by combining 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt in my giant measuring cup/mixing bowl.
Mixed it thoroughly with my whisk so everything was distributed evenly.
In went about 2 ¾ cups lukewarm water. the amount is never the same each time I make it, so as a precaution, I always add my water in stages. 
I mixed it with a wooden spoon.

Sprinkled some flour on my board…
and turned out the spooned dough to knead it. Here, I had barely begun shaping it with my hands when my camera went dead so, there aren’t any pics of the actual kneading. After that I had placed dough in an oiled metal bowl and swished it around so it was covered with the oil, then covered it with cling wrap and placed it to rise for ½ an hour.

Next… tuna. I opened and drained all five cans in a large sieve, pressing my spoon against it to remove as much liquid as possible.
Into it went 2 teaspoons lime juice and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

Now for the tuna's seasonings. Fresh thyme, chadon beni, chive, pimento peppers & parsley were chopped (in varying amounts).
At the last minute I decided to add in a chopped onion and then mixed everything up.
In went a ½ teaspoon salt and 3 heaped tablespoons of sweet relish. Tasted it and decided to add a spritz more lime and some more fresh thyme, then set it aside to work on the risen dough. :-)

This actually doubled in size (felt really proud). I just removed the cling film and turned it out onto my floured board.
A little light kneading again; I used my hands to just fold the dough onto itself.  I must emphasize that you need to resist temptation to tumble this dough about too much, because then your pies will become stiff.
So, after the light knead, I cut the dough in half. You can use a knife for this, but I recently began using this plastic bench scraper, which works well for me.
Then I split each half into two and began chopping off some good sized nubs to make into balls.
The balls were rolled and placed on an oiled baking tray, then sprayed with cooking spray so the tops wouldn’t harden. Left them for about 15 to 20 minutes to rise again. All in all, I got about 22 balls.
After they rose, I floured my board a bit.
Took a ball (don’t forget to handle these with care, they will feel like a soft marshmallow) and dipped it into my little bowl of flour to cover it all over. I do this instead of flouring the rolling pin… it's much easier.
Pressed it a little…
Rolled the ball out thinly to about a 5 inch circle.
I placed a good spoonful of tuna to cover one half, leaving a ¼ inch or so around the edge.
I used my fingertips to wet the uncovered edge with a little water, and then brought up the wet half to cover the tuna.
I then pressed the edges to pinch them together.
I used extreme care to place them one by one on the oiled baking sheet. Remember, they're as soft as marshmallows!
Now for the best part, frying them up! I put 3 cups of soya oil into my pan and heated it on medium high. Carefully added them in twos and threes and fried them until they were a nice light golden brown colour, about a minute or two, tops.
Looks good coming out, ent?
Place to drain on some paper towels or brown paper, and boom! Your pies are done!
Bust it open along the seam and add a little of your favourite spicy sauce, then take a bite! YUM!!!

And thus ends my Good Friday Tuna Pie adventure. Wow… that was definitely one of my longest postings to date, but I think it was pretty much worth it.
I also must apologise for not posting this on Good Friday itself (which was my original plan), but I was SUPER tired after making them. Plus, it’s not easy taking photos when your hands are in a combination of flour and oil, so it was very slow going. So, when I eventually ate my two pies after midday and sat on my bed, I didn't wake up until 6 hours later, and that’s why no Good Friday lunch was cooked. My family didn’t seem to mind, because no one woke me to ask if I was still going to cook, hahaa! They just kept munching on these throughout the day. In hindsight, we had our fish for Good Friday, and everyone was happy.

If you’d like the full recipe for my fried tuna pies, I’ll be happy to send it to you via email. Just hit me up at

Until next time, everyone take care, enjoy your Easter, and don’t forget to mind the pot!



  1. Drool.
    I didn't know there was Brunswick tuna. We have Brunswick canned sardines here. Different sauces, but only sardines I think.
    These fish pies look great.

  2. Thanks Anna dear! :-)
    Actually we have the Brunswick sardines here too, plus flavoured Brunswick tuna in smaller tins. There's Tomato Basil, Lemon & Pepper and Spicy Thai Chili which is my fave. When you open it there's a little red chili pepper inside. I still have some in my cupboard, which I eat with Crix crackers as a snack. Yum!

  3. Lisa girl, thanks so much for the love, hahaha! Longing for us to get together again to have a cooking lime, lol! :-)

  4. Just discovered you through Cynthia's "Tastes Like Home" blog. Love your recipe - like fried tuna empanadas - Sounds like yum to me! And oh, do I understand what you mean when you say how hard it is to photograph when your hands are covered with flour etc.!

  5. Oh, Toni, thank you so much for your kind words. I was really scared for the camera, but luckily, everything worked out well and it stayed pretty clean, hahahaa! Be sure to visit again, okay? Much love! :-D

  6. I all over this, Halcian. Yummy!

  7. @ Cynthia: You will certainly enjoy making and eating them, Cynthia! Thanks for stopping by, hahahaa! (Please forgive the late reply, lol!)

    @ Kayode: Thanks, Kayode! Let me know how they turn out, okay? :-)

  8. Glad I found this, my husband loves these fish pies, of course, I think is way too much work, but our car is at the mechanic and there is no way we could go by the vendor that sells it, so in other words, thanks for posting it...will be trying my hand at it tonight.