Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course
We both love a good piece of fresh fish. Hake, cod and haddock are all great choices and they don’t have to be battered to be tasty. When we buy hake for recipes such as this one, we tend to select fillets from a large 2–3kg fish, simply because the fillets have thicker fleshy meat and remain succulent when cooked. Ironically, it’s easier to cook fillets from a larger fish well, than thinner fillets from a smaller fish, because the thin fillets tend to dry out before the skin is coloured. If you prefer, you can use cod or haddock fillets instead of the hake, but remember to choose thick fillets if you can.
This is a simple but delicious dish. The flavours are mild, but with the correct amount of seasoning and by using good-quality ingredients, it’s definitely a favourite of ours. The cauliflower is prepared to look like couscous and it requires just very light cooking.
Ingredients & Method
For the cauliflower ‘couscous’
- 1 small head of cauliflower, green leaves and core removed, cut into large chunky florets (about 600g prepared weight)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 banana shallot, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed flat-leaf parsley and chervil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the pan-fried hake fillets
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- 4 x 120g boneless hake fillets, skin on (scales and pin bones removed)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon and sumac, to garnish
First prepare the cauliflower ‘couscous’. Using a food processor, pulse-blend the cauliflower until it resembles couscous granules or coarse breadcrumbs (it’s best to do this using the pulse setting to avoid processing the cauliflower too finely). Alternatively, this can be done by hand using a large cook’s knife by finely chopping the cauliflower until it resembles couscous granules or coarse breadcrumbs. Place the cauliflower ‘couscous’ in a bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and sauté the shallot and garlic with some salt and pepper over a high heat for 3–4 minutes or until softened and starting to turn golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cauliflower ‘couscous’ with more seasoning, then sauté for a further 1 minute, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat, then stir in the lemon zest and juice and chopped herbs. Keep warm while you cook the fish.
For the pan-fried hake, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Season the fish fillets on both sides with salt. Place the fish, skin-side down, into the pan, then cook for 2 minutes. Add the butter and cook for a further 2 minutes (on the skin side), then turn the fish over and cook on the flesh side for a further 2 minutes, using a spoon to baste the melted butter over the skin while the fish is cooking. Remove from the heat, then transfer the fish to a warm plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Leave to rest for 1 minute.
Divide the warm cauliflower ‘couscous’ between 4 serving plates and then place a piece of fish on each plate, skin-side up. Garnish each portion with a little grated lemon zest and a sprinkling of sumac, then serve.