Redolent of lemon, capers, garlic and anchovy, the recipe for this Sicilian-style Grilled Hake is pleasingly simple for a weeknight meal and yet impressive enough to serve to friends at an Italian-inspired dinner.
Hake – one either loves it or loathes it. I prefer to stay firmly in the former category. From a fried fish lunch to a bathing of buttery sauce, hake is the ultimate crowd pleaser. Most of us enjoyed our first foray into fish with a mouthful of crumbed hake doused liberally in tomato sauce and it’s still one of South Africa’s most popular seafood choice. A firm-fleshed fish with a mild flavour that holds up well to baking, frying, grilling, steaming or poaching, to turn your nose up at hake is ultimately a mistake.
To loosely quote from Starfish by Daisy Jones, hake is like a good pair of jeans – one is able to dress it up or down. Here I showcase my take on her’s and Jamie Oliver’s recipe for roasted fish with Sicilian flavours. Think of the acidic hit of a caper, the zesty freshness of lemon, the pungent saltiness of anchovy and the woody notes of rosemary and add that to fillets of tender, juicy hake.
I’ve partnered with the folks over at I&J – one of our country’s leading seafood suppliers – to develop a series of Italian-inspired recipes using their hake. Ocean-fresh thanks to being blast-frozen out at sea, I&J makes enjoying fish at home easy – no gutting knife necessary! Ideal for anyone intimidated by working with seafood, I&J’s Deep Water Hake Fillets can be easily prepared using your favourite flavours or simply drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and grilled in a hot oven.
Not only tasty, all of I&J’s hake is certifiably sustainable, with the company having been recognised for responsible management of inshore and deep sea hake resources with an accreditation from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). MSC is an independent global charity that uses a product label to reward environmentally responsible fishery management and practices, with I&J becoming the very first hake fishery to receive this accreditation in 2004. Back here on home shores, I&J works closely with the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), having made the commitment in 2016 to only sell sustainable seafood – both wild-caught and farmed. Not stopping with that, the I&J enterprise is one of the few to take steps against overfishing and widespread fishing locations, only trawling approximately 4.4% of South African territorial waters using the “ring fence” method that gives species like hake and kingklip a natural refuge and allowing stocks to replenish.
All the above may be a bit of a mouthful but in short, I&J supplies fish that is as environmentally friendly as it is delicious.
Sicilian-style Grilled Hake
Prep time: 15 mins /Cook time: 30 mins /Serves: 4
You will need:
- 1 800g box of I&J Deep Water Hake fillets
- 2 large lemons
- 4-6 brown anchovy fillets
- 12-15 caper berries
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Olive oil
- 150ml dry white wine
- Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
- 150ml fresh cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice one of the lemons, removing any seeds. Squeeze the second lemon, reserving the juice. Remove the I&J Deep Water Hake fillets from their packaging and arrange in an oven-proof dish. Layer about two lemon slices over each hake fillet and top with an anchovy fillet, a few slices of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Scatter over the caper berries and drizzle the fish with about two to three tablespoons of olive oil. Pour over the lemon juice and white wine and season the hake with salt and pepper. Bake the fish for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through. Serve the hake with steamed greens and baby potatoes with basil pesto.
For a delicious sauce to accompany the fish, add 150ml of fresh cream to the leftover pan juices and reduce over medium heat until thickened.