14 Apr Lemon Caper Hake
Though many of us have let go of the Catholic tradition of eating fish every Friday, Good Friday remains connected with a fishy supper. How did Friday become connected with fish? Though there is a delicious conspiracy that a powerful Medieval pope made a secret pact with the fishing industry to boost sales, no evidence has ever been found to help the conspiracy make the transition to historical fact. Instead, it seems to be the cold-blooded nature of fish that fits in with the theological Christian ritual of fasting on a Friday. There’s a great article on NPR.org detailing the connection between fish and Fridays, including theories from archaeologist Brian Fagan’s book Fish On Friday. Read it at http://bit.ly/fishfridays.
This week’s recipe might work for your Good Friday table, or for your table on any good day when you fancy eating fish. Hake, specifically from the North Atlantic, is a current favourite for cooks who care about the sustainability of their fish. The cod schools in our seas have taken a serious beating from unsustainable over-fishing.
Personally, I would take the sweet, subtle flavour of hake over cod any day. Be careful to source your fish from a reputable and reliable fishmongers who can tell you about the sourcing and provenance. I trust Kish Fish and Fitzsimon’s Fishmongers in Dublin, and Gannet Fishmongers in Galway are fantastic too. The fish aisle in Cork’s English Market is seriously enviable to an outsider, too.
Butter is best when it comes to cooking fish. It can’t be beat. However, you can swap it out for olive oil if you prefer. Similarly with the use of rapeseed oil in the lemon caper dressing, you can use olive oil if that’s what you have to hand. I love the golden colour of rapeseed oil as well as the gorgeous flavour it adds to the dressing. Try Newgrange Gold or Donegal Rapeseed Oil.
Lemon Caper Hake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
8 baby potatoes
3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of capers
8 asparagus spears
2 x 100g hake fillets
Plenty of butter
Lemon wedges, to serve
Fresh dill, optional
1. Bring water in a saucepan to a boil. Cook your baby potatoes for ten to twelve minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, make your lemon caper dressing. Put the rapeseed oil in a bowl and add the zest of one lemon. Squeeze in the tablespoon of lemon juice. Roughly chop the capers and add them to the dressing. Mix well and season with a little salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Heat a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Fry the fish for four minutes on each side, or until cooked through and crisping around its edges. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
4. Add a little more butter to the same pan and fry the asparagus spears over a high heat for about 3 minutes, just a flash-fry so they soften a little but still maintain their beautiful green hue and lovely crunch. There are few things as miserable as an overcooked asparagus spear.
5. Transfer the asparagus spears to a plate and place the hake fillets on top. Spoon a bit of the dressing on top of the fish and serve the rest on the side, along with the boiled spuds and a slice of lemon. Finish the plate with a few sprigs of fresh dill if you have it to hand.
Storecupboard Essential: Capers
The little pickled capers that you find in supermarkets are actually the edible flower buds of the caper bush. They add a salty burst to a dressing and love being paired with fish. Head to your local deli to pick up a good quality jar of these salty little supper savers.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on Thursday April 13th 2017