My seafood pie recipe skips the traditional pie crust in favor of phyllo puff pastry which blankets this classic in a creamy Parmesan sauce.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Traditional seafood pie or fish pie as it’s referred to more commonly in Britain from where it emerged, is a savory baked pie that employed various types of white fish and fish scraps doused in heavy cream and baked in a pie shell along with a top crust. To put it into the plainest terms, think of it like a seafood pot pie or fish pot pie. The pie I’m going to share with you today is altogether modernized for today’s way of eating, and aesthetically beautiful to look at, resplendent with cream sherry, sweet shrimp, and buttery scallops!
Creamy Shrimp and Scallop Seafood Pie Recipe
Creamy Shrimp and Scallop Seafood Pie recipe is a gorgeous dressed up casserole brimming with fresh shrimp, bay scallops, and spinach. These gems from the sea are cloaked in a creamy sauce made with cream cheese, sour cream, half and half, Parmesan cheese, and you guessed it…butter.
It is a far cry from the fish pie of the last century. Together with a green salad or a hearty vegetable side, this satisfying meal works for that in between time of year when the days are growing shorter, but our fondness for summer nights still lingers!
This modernized suppertime classic is also so visually appealing and so tasty that I consider it special enough for company. Sinfully delicious and attractive to look at, serve this as a main dish or as a side for a larger crowd.
The one thing I do not want to forget to mention about serving this dish, is to make sure you have a fresh lemon on hand. Lemon juice brightens this up tenfold and to serve without lemon wedges is fine, but just not as downright remarkable as it could be. Buy a lemon!
Do You Have What’s Needed to Bake This Creamy Shrimp and Scallop Seafood Pie Recipe? Check the List!
- phyllo pastry sheets
- peeled, deveined medium fresh shrimp or large fresh shrimp
- frozen chopped spinach
- unsalted butter
- fresh garlic cloves
- fresh bay scallops
- cream cheese
- sour cream
- Parmesan cheese from a block of cheese, not a can
- Worcestershire sauce
- cayenne pepper
- all-purpose flour
- cream sherry
- half and half
optional for garnish
- lemon wedges
- fresh thyme
How This Recipe Came About…
McClellanville, South Carolina is a tiny fishing village located on the Atlantic coast just north of Charleston. The village is situated on land surrounded by Francis Marion National Forest and has traditionally derived its livelihood from the Atlantic and coastal marshes by fishing, shrimping, and oystering.
McClellanville is where I go to buy my shrimp…right from the trawler when it pulls in from a long day on the water. When I first moved to South Carolina some 23 years ago, there was a sweet little village shop that sold locally made furniture, jewelry, clothing, and some of the most beautiful glassware I have ever seen.
On one of my journeys to and from McClellanville, I purchased a cookbook from that little village shop. To date, it is the only fish and seafood cookbook I own.
It’s not just a cookbook with recipes from the lowcountry of South Carolina. It’s a history of the food from this area and the recipes are authentic.
A version of the recipe I am sharing today comes from this book, although I’ve taken a few liberties in that I use phyllo dough and cream sherry to jazz things up. Wherever would we be if we weren’t always jazzing things up? ha 🙂
What Kitchen Equipment Will I Need to Make This Recipe?
For starters, a large skillet. Grab for a skillet with high sides if you have one as it becomes full very quickly.
You’ll also need an ovenproof dish. I use a 13 x 9-inch casserole dish, but if you own a very large pie dish (seriously, BIG), it will work as long as it’s also deep.
Lastly, you need a clean work surface. I clear a good portion of my countertop for playing with the phyllo dough since you need room to both cut it as well as be able to cover it with damp paper toweling in large sheets.
Do I Have to Prepare This Dish Using Shrimp and Scallops?
No. The good thing about this creamy seafood pie is that it was traditionally made with whatever was fished that day or in season. I’ve assembled this with poached lobster tails, smoked fish, and once even oysters.
Use a variety of fish, a variety of seafood, or a combination of both fish and seafood if you chose. I personally happen to think monkfish (naturally sweet, sometimes referred to as poor man’s lobster) combined with either large shrimp or baby shrimp blanketed in this same creamy white sauce would be outstanding.
Also, if you do not have cream sherry on hand, white wine could easily be substituted. If you are avoiding alcohol, you may skip it altogether or use bottled clam juice if on hand.
How to Make This Seafood Pie Recipe?
Before you begin, decide what you’ll be baking this pie in. To help you gauge, I am using a 13 x 9-inch baking dish that I will also be serving directly from.
Why am I mentioning this? Because if serving for company, you will want to pull a pretty baking dish. Practical first though.
Use a pastry brush to lightly grease the bottom and sides with melted butter, or olive oil. You can also use cooking spray if preferred. Give the sides an additional once over brushing just before you begin to assemble the pie just so that the sides are well-greased.
For the Shrimp
When purchasing your shrimp, and unless you personally love to sit and devein them, make sure that you look for tail-on, peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp.
I buy large shrimp. If I am unable to find them peeled and deveined, I take the time to perform this task myself, and toss the shells into a large stockpot with bay leaves, two garlic cloves, some small ribs celery chopped into smaller pieces and tap water to the top.
Boil over medium-high heat initially, then lower to medium heat and reduce by half. Shrimp stock, which is what I ultimately produce, is a FABULOUS ingredient for replacing chicken stock in my Charleston Shrimp and Grits with Crab Gravy so there’s killing two birds with one stone right there…
For the Scallops
This recipe specifies the use of bay scallops which are the tiny, sweet scallops. If you are unable to find them in season fresh from your fish monger, consider frozen, but purchase bay scallops harvested in the USA.
Scallop vessels from Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey are responsible for the majority of the U.S. harvest, so there are PLENTY of fisheries who flash freeze directly on the vessels. In other words, FROZEN AS FRESH AS THEY COME, so you just need to shop for them.
Thaw and Drain the Spinach
If I know I am making this recipe, I pull the two packages of frozen spinach the night before. Why?
You NEED the spinach well drained, and I cannot emphasize that enough. I place the frozen blocks in a colander over a big bowl, give them a 1-hour head start on my counter, then pop them into the fridge to thaw overnight.
Any liquid is caught by way of the bowl, and I pull the whole thing back out the next day to continue draining on the counter. Just before I begin the recipe, I use the back of a spoon to press as much liquid from the spinach, and then I use a clean dish towel to “wrap and wring” the remaining liquid out.
Working with Phyllo Dough
This recipe serves 8 as a main dish. That said, you will need one box or 16 frozen sheets of phyllo pastry dough. Thaw them before you embark on this method.
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Adjust your oven racks so that you have both a lower rack and a middle rack that your baking dish will fit on.
As I referenced above, you will need a large-ish clean work surface for the phyllo sheets and plenty of paper toweling. Cut phyllo sheets into 13 x 9-inch rectangles reserving half of the phyllo sheets aside and keeping covered with a layer of damp paper toweling.
Keeping phyllo damp prevents the sheets from drying out. Keeping them damp is critical to them working in your recipes.
Stack the remaining 8 sheets in your prepared baking dish, no butter in between the layers, to create a bottom crust. Bake in the preheated hot oven for about 5 minutes on the lower rack.
The phyllo should be nicely golden brown when pulled and kind of dry and crackly. Set aside to cool while you assemble your seafood and the cream sauce.
Prepare the Seafood Filling
Melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large saucepan or high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add in a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and a couple of cloves of minced fresh garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
Add in both the shrimp and scallops once the garlic is fragrant and cook just until the shrimp begin to turn pink, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on your stove. Stir in some softened cream cheese, an entire container of sour cream, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Kosher salt, and a wee bit of cayenne pepper and whisk until blended.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the thawed and well-drained spinach, using a spoon to break up any spinach clumps as you go. Set aside.
To thicken the filling, you’ll need to make a roux. Do this by melting an additional 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a separate pan over gentle heat.
Once the butter is melted increase the heat to medium high and add in some all-purpose flour. Whisk constantly for 1 minute to cook the raw flour taste out of the roux.
Remove the pan from atop the heat source and whisk in a good amount of cream sherry, about a quarter cup. Return to the heat and gradually add half and half to the mixture, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes.
Assembling the Pie
Combine the thickened roux and the seafood mixture and stir well to incorporate. Spoon seafood mixture over the baked phyllo.
Stack the remaining 8 sheets of phyllo in a neat pile, brushing each sheet with a final tablespoon of melted butter as you build the layers. Use a sharp paring knife to score slits or vents every few inches all over the top, being sure to cut through ALL of the layers.
Place phyllo stack atop the seafood mixture giving a few of the slits an extra poke to ensure you’ve gone all the way through with your knife as these vents must allow steam to release during the bake. Brush the top LIGHTLY with melted butter.
Bake the Pie
Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack this time for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden. Allow the pie to stand at least 10 minutes before you cut into it.
Can Seafood Pie Be Made Ahead?
Yes, partially anyway. The cream sauce MINUS THE ROUX can be assembled, seafood stirred in, and the ensemble stored under refrigeration in an airtight container until ready to use.
Reheat the creamy seafood mixture atop the stove over gentle heat before using. Wait to thaw, assemble, or bake the phyllo until the day of preparation.
Can Seafood Pie Be Frozen?
No. For so many reasons, the biggest being the dairy in the method breaking if frozen and thawed, no.
If You Like This Recipe…
…you might also like:
- Delicata Squash Saltimbocca with Pan Scallops
- Garlic Butter Shrimp with Pimento Cheese Grits
- A Recipe for Charleston Pickled Spiced Shrimp
- Parsley Pesto Salmon Recipe
Creamy Shrimp and Scallop Seafood Pie Recipe
- 16 (13 x 9-inch) sheets phyllo dough thawed
- 2 1/2 pounds shrimp fresh; peeled and deveined
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach thawed, drained, and all liquid pressed out
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter divided, softened
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound bay scallops fresh, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese softened
- 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated from a block; NOTE: do not use imitation cheese from a can
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cream sherry may substitute a dry white wine
- 1 3/4 to 2 cups half and half start with 1 3/4 cups and add only if sauce needs thinning
- Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Use half the melted butter to grease the bottom and sides a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with the butter. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400°F. Adjust oven racks to where you have both a lower rack and a middle rack that your baking dish will fit on.
- On a clean work surface, cut phyllo sheets into 13 x 9-inch rectangles reserving half of the phyllo sheets aside and keeping covered with a layer of damp paper toweling to prevent them from drying out. Stack the remaining 8 sheets in your prepared baking dish to create a bottom crust. Bake in the preheated hot oven for about 5 minutes on the lower rack. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Melt another 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add Worcestershire sauce and minced garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Once the garlic is fragrant add in shrimp and scallops. Cook just until the shrimp begin to turn pink, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in softened cream cheese, sour cream, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Kosher salt, and cayenne and whisk until blended. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in spinach, using a spoon to break up any clumps. Set aside.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a separate pan over medium heat. Increase the heat to medium high and add in flour. Whisk constantly for 1 minute to cook the raw flour taste out of the roux. Remove the pan from atop the heat. Add the cream sherry and whisk until smooth. Return to the heat and gradually add half and half to the mixture, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Combine the thickened roux and the seafood mixture and stir well to incorporate. Spoon seafood mixture over the baked phyllo. Stack the remaining 8 sheets of phyllo in a neat pile, brushing each sheet with the remaining half of melted butter used to grease the baking dish. Use a sharp paring knife to score slits every few inches all over the top, being sure to cut through ALL of the layers. Place phyllo stack atop the seafood mixture giving a few of the slits an extra poke to ensure you've gone all the way through. Brush the top LIGHTLY with melted butter.
- Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack this time for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden. Allow the pie to stand at least 10 minutes before you cut into it.
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