I’m fed up, fed up with this miserable dank and depressing weather. I am usually the sort of person that relishes bad weather, I love the rain, wind, snow and the colder the better. The sunshine and hot weather generally irritates me, bringing me less than joyful experiences of prickly heat, sweating, and general huffiness at the oh so righteous ‘sun worshippers’ skipping in tandem amongst the flowers of rapeseed fields wearing floral dresses and floppy hats. I can be a bit of a curmudgeon where the weather is concerned, and I fully accept it.
So, surprised you will be when I say I have had enough, and in a desperate bid to inject some sunshine into my life I created this recipe. As much as I love my winter warmers of hot steaming pots of slow cooked meat, warm soups and pies. This time I just wanted a flit of summer to grace my dinner table, something a bit less heavy and reminds me of the warmer months.
When I was a boy I used to stop over at my nanny’s during the summer holidays – it was always a fun time to be around her, and Thursdays was when the fish van visited. It tooted its horn to let everyone know of its presence and droves of well weathered women in pinnys came out with their purses, me – with my nanny clutching my hand – I looked on in awe and wonder at the fish laid out in front of me. The usual suspects of cod, haddock – and my nanny’s favourite – lemon sole. She would make her selection, pay and lead me back indoors with my head reeling back just to have one last glance at the curious and amusing display of fish. I will never forget that van, nor will I forget the taste of fresh undyed smoked haddock with parsley sauce and peas that nanny used to cook for me.
Hake is a yielding fish, it gives you soft moist flakes that give no resistance against a fork, and cooked on the bone it gives a lovely sweetness that is just a joy to eat. If you are feeling a bit blue and weather worn give this a go, I promise it will take you straight back to long hot summer days, or at the very least it will make you smile.
Pan fried hake with sauce vierge
- 2 – 4 Fresh hake steaks on the bone (about 2 inches thick)
- Vegetable oil
- for the sauce vierge
- 1 shallot finely diced
- 2 dessert spoons capers (the ones in brine not salt)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 100ml of really good extra virgin olive oil, the best you can afford
- 150g cherry tomatoes
- 2tsp chopped chives
- 2tsp chopped parsley
- 2tsp chopped fresh basil
- 2tsp fresh tarragon, leaves stripped off the stalk
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Take a hot pan or skillet and add a little vegetable oil and a small knob of butter, fry your hake steaks for about 2-4 minutes each side until just cooked, be careful not to over cook them. leave in the pan off the heat whilst you make the sauce vierge.
- To make the sauce vierge place the tomatoes into boiling hot water for a about a minute until the skin splits, remove from the water and peel off the skin completely. Slice in half and remove the seeds, then finely dice. Put the olive oil, shallots, capers, lemon juice, diced tomato and minced garlic into a saucepan and gently heat until just warm to the touch. Lastly add all the herbs. Place the hake steaks on a serving dish and slake the sauce over the fish. Serve with buttered new potatoes and a crisp garden salad, Bliss.