Hake is great! It has a firm, meaty texture and holds together well on cooking. Even more importantly, it is sustainable. Give cod a break, try hake (hey…that rhymes!!!) Keep things simple - simple flavours work well with white fish. Think lemon, garlic, parsley, capers and you have already started a dish to rival your local restaurant.
I also think fish works best if you combine it with varying textures like silky smooth mash to compliment the flaky, firm white fish and steamed kale to act as a little mop, soaking up all the juices and make sure every mouthful is full of flavour.
So here it is…. my pan fired hake fillet with olive oil mash, steamed kale and a lemon, parsley and caper sauce.
- 2 chunky Hake fillets (ask your fishmonger for the middle section of the fillet rather than the tail and leave the skin on)
- 600g good quality mashing potatoes (try Vivaldi variety from Sainsburys)
- 1 shallot, chopped.
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 lemon
- Good quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Peel and halve the potatoes, boil until tender than drain thoroughly before combining with a good knob of butter and then mash together. Season with salt and pepper. For a really smooth mash, pass the potato through a sieve. It is a bit of a faff but one taste and you will notice the difference. Drizzle in about a tablespoon (or more) of your best quality olive oil. The mash can be kept warm under foil in a glass bowl set over a pan of hot water.
Meanwhile heat about 75g of butter in a heavy based frying pan over a moderate heat. Dry both sides of the fish with kitchen towel and season the skin side with salt and pepper. Once the butter has started to foam, move it around the pan until it takes on a nutty brown hazelnut colour. At this stage, add the fish, skin side down. Don’t move the fish round the pan, let it sizzle, if it starts to ‘arch’ up out of the pan just gently push it back down. Allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes then once the skin is crispy, turn over and cook flesh side down for another couple of minutes.
Whilst the fish is cooking, add the kale to a pan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes then drain thoroughly, squeeze the excess water out, return to the pan and add a knob of butter and ground pepper, cover with a lid to keep warm.
Remove the fish from the heat to a warmed plate and cover lightly with kitchen towel to keep warm.
Meanwhile, add the shallot and garlic to the pan and cook off in the butter. Add the juice of 1 lemon (even cut out a few of the segments and add these), a dessertspoonful of rinsed capers and a good handful of chopped parsley with freshly ground black pepper and some salt (careful – the capers add plenty of saltiness so you won’t need much!)
On warmed plates, place the mash, then seasoned kale then the fish on top of each other and drizzle over the sharp, buttery sauce. Dig in!