Kiki’s Delivery Service Pumpkin Herring Pot Pie Recipe

This recipe is from a childhood favorite movie called Kiki’s delivery service. If you’ve watched this popular Ghibli film, you may have noted the beautiful-looking pot pie made by a grandmother for her granddaughter’s birthday. In the recipe detailed below, I’ve combined various recipes across the internet, namely Binging With Babish’s video recipe which has few clear measurements and no written instructions and written out a coherent and tasty recipe.

You may think that pumpkin (technically squash) and herring is a strange combination for a savory pie, one that would only taste good within the confines of a children’s movie about magic. However, the pairing goes surprisingly well together. The herring is not very fishy at all and adds a meaty, somewhat smokey, salty, but light flavor that compliments the sweetness of the pumpkin well. This is definitely one of my favorite dishes to make, especially considering how beautiful it looks compared to the effort required.

Some tips for this recipe:

  • When you buy the puff pastry, it should be frozen. Let it defrost in the fridge overnight. Make sure not to leave it out on the counter or handle it with your hands too much once unwrapped. Puff pastry is essentially made up of very thin layers of butter and dough, and if you accidentally melt the butter the crust will turn out flat and dense once cooked instead of light and flakey. 
  • The pie gets more fishy over time! When I made the filling fresh, I barely tasted any fish at all. However, the next day it smelled quite strongly of fish. The people I gave it to said it still tasted good, but this is something to be aware of if you aren’t a huge fan of fish. When I made the recipe I used two cans of herring, but I adjusted it in this recipe to combat the second-day fishiness. If you plan on eating the pie fresh, two cans is a good amount. 
  • Make sure you wash the leeks well as they’re notorious for holding dirt in their folds. 
  • The herring flavor really isn’t super fishy, but if you’re truly adverse to fish you can leave it out while adding a bit more salt. 
  • I like to cut the chunks of kabocha into irregular-sized pieces, as this means some of the chunks will remain intact adding more texture to the dish. Smaller pieces will break apart and incorporate into the sauce. This is completely optional.
  • You don’t need to worry too much about getting the ingredients to the exact ounce measurements. As long as you follow the approximations in parentheses, you should be fine. 
  • Kabocha pumpkins are extremely hard and difficult to cut when raw. If you’re having trouble cutting it up, you can try microwaving it for 4 – 5 minutes in the microwave to slightly soften it. 
  • If you don’t want to roast the squash, or if you just want to cook it faster, you can also cut the kabocha into 1 – 2 inch slices and steam for 10 – 15 minutes in a pot.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with cooking terminology, when a recipe says to chop, dice, mince, or slice produce, these all correlate to very different-sized pieces. If you’re unfamiliar, look up β€œchopped vs. diced vs. minced onions” and you’ll be able to see the difference
  • Make sure you taste the filling once it’s done because the flavor will not change once baked. 


  • 20 oz. Roasted kabocha Squash (1 squash)
  • 3 oz. Leeks (2 stalks)
  • 6 oz. Onion (one medium-sized onion)
  • 3 Cloves minced garlic 
  • 6.5 oz. Fresh fennel root (half of one large fennel root)
  • 4 oz. Celery stalks (2 stalks)
  • 3.5 oz. Canned herring (1 boneless canned herring kipper cans)
  • 12 tbsp butter (1 Β½ sticks)
  • β…“ cup flour 
  • 2 tbsp flour (for dusting)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup (approx) of fish stock (or vegetable stock) 
  • 4 Sprigs of sage 
  • 2 Sprigs rosemary
  • 7 Sprigs thyme
  • 2 Bay leafs
  • 1 tbsp Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp pepper (to taste)
  • 10 black olives 
  • One egg
  • 1 box of puff pastry
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Special Materials

  • Rolling pin
  • Large knife
  • Ceramic or glass baking dish 
  • whisk


Ingredient Prep

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Take the kabocha squash and cut it in half with a large knife, drizzling the two halves with olive oil. Once the oven is finished heating up, place the kabocha onto the baking sheet face up and cook for approximately 25 – 30 minutes, until the flesh shows little resistance when poked with a knife but is still firm enough to retain shape.

 While the kabocha is roasting take the leeks and rinse thoroughly. Slice the white section of the leeks into thin ΒΌ inch slices, and cut the medallions in half. Set this aside.

Take the celery and onion, dice, and set aside.

Remove the stems from your fennel root by cutting them off. Next, with a large knife cut the fennel root in half. At this point, you’ll want to remove the hard inner heart. Once the heart is removed, dice up the root. Set this aside.

Break apart canned herring into smaller fibers by putting the canned herring into a small bowl, and break it apart with a fork until there are no large chunks. 

Prep herbs by slicing sage leaves into thin slices, removing the thyme leaves from the stems, and by removing the leaves from the rosemary stems, and then mincing them into fine pieces. Combine these all together and set it aside.

Take the kabocha out of the oven and let it cool to room temp, or until you’re able to handle it without burning yourself. Next, take a large knife and cut the kabocha halves into smaller 2 – 3 inch chunks. Take a dull knife, and remove the flesh from the skin. Once the skin is removed, cut the chunks into 1-inch pieces, and set aside. 


First, you must make a bechamel sauce. To do this add 5 tbsp of butter to a medium-sized pan, and let simmer until barely starting to brown. At this point, you’ll want to take 4 cups of milk and microwave this for a couple of minutes until warm and set aside. Next, add β…“ cup of flour, and stir continuously with a whisk until combined. Do not let this sit. Once smoothly combined, slowly pour in the 4 cups of milk, continuing to whisk. It may look clumpy when you add the milk, but continue to stir until smooth. Set aside. 

In a large pot, add around 5 tbsp of butter until simmering. Next add leeks, celery, onions, fennel root, garlic, and herbs and let brown slightly, adding more butter if needed. Then, add kabocha slices, and continue to brown slightly while mixing. 

Add bechamel sauce to the pot and mix until evenly distributed throughout the vegetable mixture. Add approximately 1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock to thin the mixture into an appropriate texture. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste.


First, preheat the oven to 365 degrees. 

Take a large cutting board and dust it with flour. Take the puff pastry out of the refrigerator, and unfold it over the cutting board. Take a rolling pin and roll out puff pastry to a medium thickness. It should be noticeably thinner than its original thickness, but not so thin it could rip easily. Once rolled out, take the dish you plan on putting the pot pie in and trace the top of the pan and trace it onto the pastry. Next, try your best to cut a fish shape out of the excess dough, including gills, and an eye, as seen in the picture below. You may also lightly score lines onto the fins of the fish. Then, cut out approximately 6 vertical strips of dough (more or less depending on the size of your dish). 

To assemble, take the cooled pie filling and scoop it into the baking dish you have prepared, and smooth it down. Then, place the large sheet of puff pastry you traced and place it over the filling. Over this, place the long strips into a diagonal pattern with approx. 1 inch between them. Over this, place the fish, the gills, and the eye. Lastly, take the sliced olives and place one on each diagonal stripe around the edges of the pie.

Once heated to 375 degrees bake the potpie for give or take 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool.

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