Fish of the month
Hake Cooked in the Basque Style with Garlic and Sauce Romesco
San Sebastian is the place to eat hake. In Bar Ganbara we enjoyed a simple preparation of hake split through the head and roasted over a fire. It was dressed with olive oil, vinegar and sliced dried peppers, a garnish we would see all along the coast at various fish restaurants and one which we now use at The Seahorse. It has encouraged us to use more vinegar in our cooking. If you do not have an ovenproof frying pan then carefully transfer the fish to a baking tray or dish before cooking it in the oven.
half dried nora/choricero chilli
4 hake fillets, about 180/200g each, skin on
100ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
20ml good-quality agrodolce vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
For the sauce Romesco
4 dried nora/choricero chillies
100g whole blanched almonds
6 garlic cloves, peeled
12 roasted pequillo peppers (or 6 roasted and peeled peppers)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
quarter teaspoon hot smoked paprika
25ml sherry vinegar
100ml olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/Gas Mark 6; Soak the dried chillies for both the fish and the sauce in separate bowls for 10 minutes, then drain and deseed. Begin by making the sauce Romesco. Place the almonds and the 4 soaked chillies in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the garlic, roasted peppers and spices and pulse again to combine. Add the vinegar, most of the olive oil (reserve 1 tablespoon for later) and a pinch of salt, then pulse again to produce a thick sauce that is neither too chunky or too smooth.
Fry the hake fillets skin-side down in a large, ovenproof frying pan in the reserved 1 tablespoon olive oil until lightly golden. Turn, then transfer the pan to the oven and roast the fish for about 5 minutes, or until just cooked through. Meanwhile, finely slice the soaked dried chilli. Heat the garlic, remaining olive oil, the sliced dried chilli and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Cook gently for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute the garlic and chilli. As soon as the edges of the garlic begin to turn golden take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Add a splash of the agrodolce vinegar and the chopped parsley. Remove the hake from the oven, put a fillet on each serving plate and peel away the skin. Spoon a little sauce over each piece of fish and serve with a spoonful of Romesco sauce.