The ultimate in comfort food, the humble potato bake is fortified with delicious Namibian-caught and MSC-certified hake. The addition of grainy mustard in a cream sauce makes this dish decadent enough to serve as dinner while also working as a simple lunch with salad.
This year I started developing a few recipes for the Marine Stewardship Council‘s (MSC) South African branch and it’s been a pleasure to re-explore the versatility of everyone’s favourite fish – hake. Now not only caught off our coast, deep sea hake has recently been MSC-certified in Namibia. Assisting in alleviating overfishing in Africa as a continent, MSC’s presence in South Africa and Namibia have increased awareness around our fish stocks – at both industry and consumer levels. What with over a third of fish stocks around the globe being overfished, sustainable fisheries are the only answer to reaching an equilibrium that protects and benefits both fish stocks and profits. As Louanne Mostert – Marketing & Communications Manager for MSC South Africa – puts it;
“It’s a big win for us in the region. With another certified fishery we will be able to grow the visibility of the MSC and demonstrate both the benefits of certification as well as the role of the MSC programme in driving change and providing the tools for fisheries to improve their environmental performance”
Here in South Africa, where hake is a popular and inexpensive everyday fish, the pioneering South African Cape hake fishery has been driving change in the industry since 2004. It was the first hake fishery in the world, and on the African continent to gain MSC certification. By maintaining good practice and remaining certified the fishery has not only safeguarded fish stocks and ensured that natural breeding habitats are protected, it has also secured some 12,000 jobs and increased access to international markets. From Michael Marriott, the Program Manager for MSC Africa, Middle East and South Asia, having a MSC-certified fishery in Namibia is as much a socio-economic win as it is an environmental one;
“We congratulate the fishery on their wonderful achievement. Hake fishing is an important economic contributor in Namibia and with existing markets in South Africa and southern Europe, as well as interest in their certification from a number of new markets, managing this resource sustainably can only be in the best interests of the Namibian people.”
Not only popular on local plates, firm white fish makes up a large portion of the Mediterranean diet, with demand for Cape hake from as far afield as Spain and Italy. Shipping locally caught hake to the European market means that the rest of the world gets to enjoy juicy Cape hake that’s been sustainably and responsibly fished.
Although I’m very vocal for my love of the West Coast of South Africa, I’ve long since had a fascination with the Namibian coastline – my parents honeymooned there in the late Eighties and I’ve been hankering to explore this country of shifting dunes, gold rush ghost towns and flamingo-filled lagoons ever since. In celebration of the Namibian hake trawl and longline industry gaining their certification for sustainable fishing practices (the first in their country!) I’ve developed a recipe that combines local flavour with beautiful, sustainable Namibian hake.
Combine the comfort of a classic potato bake with juicy, responsibly-fished hake and you have a Sunday night dinner winner. Cream infused with grainy mustard, garlic and rosemary flavours thin slices of potato paired with tender hake medallions whilst a generous grating of Parmesan over the whole lot gives a decadent edge to this otherwise health-conscious seafood.
Hake and Potato Bake with Mustard
Prep time: 30 mins /Cook time: 1 hour /Serves: 4-6
You will need:
- 4 – 6 large waxy potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 large brown onion, peeled
- 400g hake fillets, sliced into sections
- 250ml cream
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
- Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
- 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 100g Parmesan, grated
Pour the cream into a saucepan and set over low heat. Stir in the mustard and garlic. Strip the rosemary leaves from their stalks and add to the cream mixture. Season with salt and black pepper. Once combined and slightly thickened, remove the mustard cream sauce from the heat and set aside.
Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the potatoes and onions very thinly. Place the potato slices into a bowl of cold water to remove extra starch. Drizzle a little olive oil into a large ovenproof dish and cover the base with potato and onion slices. Arrange a few pieces of the hake over the onions and pour over some of the mustard cream sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a second layer of potato and onion slices and repeat with the fish, mustard cream sauce and seasoning. Layer and repeat until the dish is full. To finish it off, layer a final covering of potato, scatter over the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake the dish in a preheated 180°C oven for an hour before increasing the temperature to 220°C for the final 20 minutes. The dish is ready when the top layer is golden brown, crisp and bubbling.
Serve the Hake and Potato Bake with a crisp green salad and garlic bread.
Hungry for more? Take a peek at MSC’s own Foodie’s Guide to Sustainable Hake for recipe inspiration using delicious Cape and Namibian hake.