Hake is a fish that is not often found on menus, or in shops in Britain, but in Spain it is both everyday and special. In the fish markets in Andalucia, it is possibly one of the most common species you will see displayed, and everyone seems to be buying it in great quantities, but it is also one of the few that is sold as a speciality: some stalls sell only hake (merluza) and make a virtue of putting just one or two gorgeous specimens out at a time, their red gills displayed to show off their freshness.
Having seen it everywhere in the markets and in restaurants in Andalucia, I was determined to see if it was easy to source and cook at home. Full of impeccable flavour and with a lovely meaty texture, it is a white fish that can carry a great deal but it really doesn’t need much. It is most famously served, in Spain at least, with salsa verde and, though I plan to try that very soon, the most successful combination so far seems to be fish + pimentón (look for this symbol to find the best stuff) + heat; simple and incredibly delicious. You need nothing more than a salad or something green with this.
Makes enough for two
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
flaky sea salt
hake steaks, either on or off the bone, about 200g per person
pimentón, about a teaspoon per steak
1. Turn your oven up to its highest setting (well, about 240°C).
2. Once the oven is up to temperature, pour a good lick of olive oil into a small roasting tin and put it into the oven to get hot.
3. As soon as the oil is hot, remove the tin from the oven, put the fish into the oil, and sprinkle the top with a little pimentón and flaky sea salt, then turn it and do the same on the other side.
4. Return the tin to the oven and bake until the fish is opaque. This can take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness and freshness of the fish and your oven so do keep checking it regularly.
5. Serve sprinkled with a little bit more salt, steamed potatoes (delicious with the pimentón-y oil and a green salad.