Of late, sustainable fish has been a talking point that won’t go away. The health of the ocean – which is far from secure – has become a pressing matter not only for marine conservationists but consumers too, and for some fisherman as well.
June 8 marks World Ocean's Day, which aims to spread the word about the impact the global population is having on the planet’s waters, which provide 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. There is much to be done to lessen the damage we’re doing, but one small, easy win is to only eat sustainable fish.
Below, acclaimed Seahorse and Rockfish chef Mitch Tonks – who is an ambassador for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – shares a recipe for hake slathered in a garlic and romesco sauce. Hake, which Tonks describes as “meaty, silky, juicy, versatile and easy to cook”, is an interesting fish, being one of the healthiest in the sea, as its meat is low in fat and, containing both phosphorus and calcium, its bones tend to grow strong. If no hake is available, Tonks advises, any other white fish fillet will make a decent stand-in, particularly cod or haddock. The trick in this one is perfecting the romesco sauce, a Catalonian classic.
Tonks is sharing the recipe in the hope that consumers will choose hake certified to the MSC Standard, as part of the organisation’s #BigBlueFuture campaign. More on this can be found at this page.
Cooking time: 20 minutes
½ dried nora/choricero chilli
4 MSC certified hake fillets, about 180–200g each, with skin on
100ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
20ml good quality agrodolce vinegar (e.g. white balsamic 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
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
25ml sherry vinegar
100ml olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200°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.
Place the almonds and the four soaked chillies in a processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the garlic, roasted peppers and spices and pulse again. Add the vinegar, most of the olive oil (reserve one tablespoonful for later) and a pinch of salt, then pulse again to produce a thick sauce that is neither too chunky nor too smooth.
Fry the hake fillets skin-side down in a large, ovenproof frying pan in the reserved olive oil until lightly golden. Turn, then transfer the pan to the oven and roast the fish for about five minutes, or until just cooked through.
Finely slice the soaked dried chilli. Heat the garlic in a little olive oil, add the sliced dried chilli and a pinch of salt. Cook gently for two 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.