On the face of it, South African and Spanish cuisines have virtually nothing in common, except for one thing – both countries consume a staggering amount of hake!
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.