Hake it or love it, the prawn sauce is on top

Now I’m not saying the festive season is almost upon us, but the festive season is almost upon us.

My ear lobes are yet to be bombarded with any Mariah, and I definitely won’t be using the C word right now, BUT if there are a couple of dinner parties pencilled into your diary, please see the below recipe for baked hake with a prawn & burnt tomato sauce and crispy potatoes for inspiration… if you happen to be fishing for a dish to impress over the coming weeks.

Shopping list (serves 4)
Prawn sauce:
Tiger prawns (raw, skin & head on) x 12
White onion (finely diced) x 1
Garlic cloves (minced) x 3
Lemon x 1/4
Thyme sprigs x 1 small handful
Brandy x 100ml
Bay leaves x 2
Salt x 1 tsp
Black pepper
Plum/cherry tomatoes (halved) x 100g
Unsalted butter x 1 tbsp
Cream x 1 tbsp
Dill (finely diced) x 1 small handful
Boiled water x 1L

Baby potatoes (skin on) x 1kg
Pumpkin seeds x 100g
Sea weed/samphire x 30g

Hake fillets x 4
Unsalted butter

[Barry Can’t Swim – Rah That’s a Proper Mad Question, Shall Not Fade, 2021]

Start with the sauce.

Remove the shells and heads of the prawns, and keep the bodies chilled for later. Roughly chop the shells and heads,

(I actually find this is easier if they are frozen and have had 10-15 minutes out of the freezer.)

Add just the shells and heads to a pan with the onion, garlic, a generous glug of oil and the salt. Gently cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the bay leaves, thyme, a good grinding of black pepper and the lemon. Mix well, before adding the brandy until almost completely reduced.

Now add the boiled water and simmer over a low heat for at least four hours. When there is roughly 300ml of liquid remaining, you can remove from the heat. Sieve and retain the liquid. Set aside.

For the potatoes, simply boil them whole in a large pan of salted water for 15 minutes. Remove them from the water and allow to cool completely on some kitchen paper. Cut them evenly into small cubes and add to a large frying pan.

Gently fry the potatoes over a medium heat with a knob of butter for 15 minutes until crispy. Don’t add any salt here, because the sea weed/samphire will do that for you. You can now add the pumpkin seeds and sea weed/samphire and leave on a very low heat.

At the same time, place the tomatoes under a hot grill for 10 minutes until cooked and charred evenly. Remove and set aside.

Take the hake fillets and season with salt and black pepper. Arrange the four fillets on a baking tray, with a thin slice of unsalted butter on top of each one.

Set your oven to 200°C (fan)/220°C. If your grill has just been on for the tomatoes, this should be a very swift process.

Bake the fish for eight minutes. In the meantime, add the cream and butter to the 300ml of prawn sauce in a saucepan. Over a high heat, use a hand blender for a minute or two, to blitz the mixture to an emulsion. After blending, finely dice the prawn bodies and add them to the sauce over a high heat. After just two or three minutes, add the dill and burnt tomatoes, and stir lightly, before taking off the heat.

Serve the hake on top of the potatoes with a generous portion of the prawn and burnt tomato sauce.



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