Hake is Spain’s favourite fish but much less popular in the UK, which is something of a mystery to me. It’s a sustainable catch and it tastes terrific, but most of the hake landed here every year gets shipped to Spain. It’s surely time to repatriate it (insert Brexit joke here) but this recipe also works with cod or any other firm-fleshed white fish.
It seems only fair to borrow something from the Med for the base: it’s a version of peperonata, an Italian pepper ragout. I used bottled peppers for speed and convenience but if you’d prefer to make your own, grill or barbecue the peppers until the skins are black and blistering, then put them in a food-safe plastic bag for half an hour. The skins will peel off easily, if messily. They’ll need slightly longer to cook than the bottled peppers.
Anchovy haters will find that the salty little fish vanish into the sauce, just adding depth of flavour, but if you’re not convinced, swipe a Spanish ingredient and use a handful of diced chorizo instead, thrown into the pan before the onions.
And if I was making this in the summer I’d use fresh, full-flavoured English tomatoes (skinned) but as I’m not, I’ve gone with tinned Italian tomatoes, which are infinitely better than the watery winter offerings from most supermarkets.
Hake with Peperonata
2 thick hake fillets, 300-350g in total
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
1 stick of celery (optional), finely sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
350g of roasted red peppers, sliced into ribbons
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
4-5 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp black olives, pitted
1/2 tspn chilli flakes or more, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Herbs, to garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.
Heat the oil in a deep, oven-proof casserole. Fry the onion and celery, if using, until soft and golden but not browned. Add the garlic and fry gently for two minutes more.
Break up the anchovy fillets and stir them in so they melt into the onions. Add the tomatoes, peppers and chilli flakes and cook on a low to medium heat until thick and soupy.
Stir in the olives and capers and grind in some black pepper. You may not need additional salt, but check and adjust to taste.
Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper then sit them, skin-side down, on the tomato and pepper mix. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the fish is translucent. Don’t overcook it or you’ll spoil what is a delicate fish.
Scoop carefully onto warmed plates, scatter with a few herbs and eat with crusty bread or, in season, baby new potatoes.
This sounds good. I’m doing senior moments though, as I initially read this as haké and wondered what on earth it could be. Yes, hake’s a nice fish.
Like poke? (Add your own accent, my computer is having a senior moment too.) 😀
Wonderful recipe Linda. I will definitely be trying this. I’m off to Peterhead again tmrw where they’re landing more hake than ever before, but there will be problems as we just don’t have enough historic quota in the U.K. Mike x
Thanks, Mike, glad you like it. Does that mean because we haven’t eaten enough in the past we’re not allowed to eat more now or am I misunderstanding you? Lx
The problem is that the species has increased massively in volume in the last 10 years but because it was never a major catch for us, when quotas were allocated on historic catches we didn’t get a lot. However our fishermen now can’t avoid it so it prevents them catching cod, haddock etc where they swim together. What we call a “choke species” Sorry it’s a very complex subject! We just have to encourage folk to eat more! x
You’ll get no argument from me. Thanks for the elucidation. Lx
No hake in Oz but it looks a similar texture to goldband snapper which I know would be delicious perched on peperonata. Thanks for connecting the two for me, it will be done in a day or two….
Pleased you like the look of it, Sandra, hope you enjoy it if you cook it. Goldband snapper sounds impossibly exotic, sitting here on a damp, grey winter day in England. 🙂
I’ve never prepare peperonata with seafood before, Linda. We’ve always served it with pork sausage, if anything. We do serve baccalà (dried, salted cod) braised in tomato sauce and I bet that it would work great if roasted peppers were included, too. This is something I’m definitely going to try and perhaps very soon. Traditionally, baccalà was one of the dishes my family served on Christmas Eve. Circumstances may prevent me from doing so this year but there will be plenty of opportunities to prepare baccalà over the holidays. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
I’m feeling slightly guilty now about the inauthenticity and for taking such liberties! It does work very well though. Lxx