Hake Steak with Spicy Red Peppers
First, gut the fish, then scale it by gently drawing a small knife up and down the skin under running water.
Next, you need a chopping board, a rolling pin and a large knife. Don't use your fine Japanese knives here - a cleaver is more useful. Chop the head off and reserve for stock if you think you can stand the sight of that thing bobbing about in your stock pot. The rolling pin? It's for knocking the knife through the backbone.
Phew! Headless Hake!
Now, we can take our steaks off. Slice about an inch and a half along the back of the fish and knock the blade through. Repeat, again and yet again. You should now be just behind the large spines top of and underside of the fish.
The remainder of the fish can be filleted along the backbone, leaving just the tail for stock.
So, we have two good fillets and four large steaks.
Take a couple of steaks and pop them into a steamer on top of a foil base, lots of lemon, some strong herbs like dill, tarragon or thyme - I used dill. Salt and a little butter on the top. Set aside until ready to steam - it will take about 10 minutes.
Don't be tempted to snip off the spines. Once steamed, these spines will help you whip the skin off leaving beautiful tender flesh falling off the backbone.
Let's make up our red peppers ...
Take a Romano pepper each - these are the long, sweet red peppers. Cut lengthways, seed and clean up the white pith. Shred and toss into a skillet with some shredded shallots and thinly sliced chorizo.
The chorizo will supply the fat and the smoky colour. Add in some chilli for the heat - fresh, dried, powdered or sauce, whatever you have to hand.
Pour over a carton of chopped tomatoes and let it simmer - the tomatoes will almost disappear, leaving softened peppers in a hot sauce.
I also made up some sauté potatoes and a few green beans. Feel free to leave these out. I don't think sweet potato would give the required flavour, perhaps swede, perhaps celeriac. Asparagus would work out fine, lightly steamed - we want something green with a crunch to offset some of the oiliness in the red pepper.
With the red peppers simmering, steam your fish over a pan of rolling boiling water. 10 minutes should do it.
Meanwhile, wilt some spinach in butter and a little white pepper.
Serve out ...
Plate a good portion of red peppers, scattering over the green vegetables and sautéed roots.
Gently lift the fish out, taking a hold of the spines and sliding the skin off. Plate in the middle, crowning with the wilted spinach. Grind of black pepper.
The soft white flesh of the fish has a delicate flavour of its own, not overpowered by nor overpowering the other flavours on the plate; each compliments the other.
Seriously delicious! Give it go ...