January 26th, 2010
I visited the fishmonger at Angel Fisheries today and once again he sold me a large hake for £5. I didn’t weigh it, but the fish is easily 4 – 5 lb in weight – you’d pay about £5 for a fillet in the supermarkets! Hake is a firm fleshed, white fish, with a very solid spine – it has few little bones and is easy to slice or fillet. Hake isn’t very popular in Britain, though there are a lots of them in British waters. Most get exported to Spain, where it’s one of the most popular fish. I’d never eaten hake until I lived in Barcelona. I normally cook hake steaks in breadcrumbs, which is quite typical in Cataluña, but fancied something different.
Hake and Roast Potato recipe:
It’s quite simple to vary this dish for any number of people – you require about 4 -5 potatoes and one or two pieces of hake (or other white fish depending on the size) per person.
Hake – 1 large fillet per person
Potatoes for roasting (I like désirée potatoes for their fluffy, waxy properties, but most other red potatoes are good)
1 large onion (sliced into 8 pieces)
6 or more pieces of garlic (slightly crushed with the back of a knife and peeled)
1 tablespoon of goose fat
Some olive oil as needed (I used olive oil infused with rosemary and garlic)
A few sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Pre salt your hake fillets before doing anything else – it will make it cook and taste better. Peel your potatoes and place them in a saucepan of salted water. Bring to the boil, drain the water and with the lid on, shake the potatoes to bruise them. Désirée potatoes bruise and go fluffy quite easily – potatoes which are less flowery will require 5 minutes, or so, of cooking before they will go fluffy.
Place your oven dish, including the goose fat, into a preheated oven at 200º C until it smokes. At this point add the potatoes, onion, garlic, and the sprigs of herbs. You can be generous with the salt and pepper, as potatoes will absorb a lot of the salty flavour. Return your dish to the oven and turn the potatoes every 15 minutes to brown them all over. Move the onion and garlic pieces around too, to stop them burning. If the dish looks at all dry, add some olive oil. After about 45 minutes, or when the potatoes start to look like my picture, add the bay leaves and place the hake fillets on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with some olive oil. Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes (until the fish starts to flake).
When the hake is done, slice a lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the top. Serve with lots of home made allioli.
In Spain you will also find hake and potatoes cooked in the oven with a sprinkle of chilli, sherry vinegar, chopped chorizo and 4 or so, large tomatoes.
The fishmonger is going on holiday to New Zealand, for the whole of February 2011, so you’d be best off checking him out in March.