Know as merluza in Spain and often referred to as stockfish in South Africa, hake is a staple in both countries. Sadly, hake in South Africa is usually relegated to being given the “fish ‘n chips treatment”, which is a shame as its light and delicate flavour deserves so much more. Generally considered an every-man’s fish, when it comes to more complex dishes, South Africans tend to pass over hake in favour of classier fish like kob or kingklip. In Spain, however, hake is viewed with slightly more reverence than it is afforded in South Africa and, as a result, it benefits from a greater appreciation of its true potential.
My favourite way of sprucing up a piece of hake, Merluza à la Gallega is a revelation to all hake loving South Africans! Quick, tasty and relatively cheap to make, this dish is a true one-pot wonder. I love to serve this dish with some day-old ciabatta, drizzled with some olive oil and lightly grilled – it is the perfect way to mop up the smoky broth!
Trust me, you will never see the humble hake in quite the same way ever again. Impossibly good.
Merluza à la Gallega (Spanish Hake and Chorizo): Serves 4
- 4 hake fillets, about 200g each (with the skin still on)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tbsp. paprika (preferably smoked paprika, 1/2 tbsp. hot & 1/2 tbsp. sweet)
- 100g cooking chorizo, cut into cubes
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 500g potatoes (either Pink Fir or New), halved lengthways
- 1 glass white wine
- 300ml water
- salt and pepper
- Flat-leafed Parsley, to garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a casserole, or deep sauté pan, with a lid
- Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, or until soft.
- Add the garlic and cook gently for another couple of minutes
- Add the paprika and fry for a couple of minutes
- Add the diced chorizo and green pepper and fry for 4 minutes
- Add the potatoes, followed by the wine and water.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are just tender and the liquid has reduced a little, about 10 minutes
- Season the fish and place on top of the potatoes
- Cover the pan and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the hake is cooked through
- Sprinkle with a little chopped flat-leafed parsley and serve immediately