Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hake en papillotte with roast tomatoes and basil

Looking for a fish dish to cook recently, I bought some really nice hake from Michael Byrnes in Sandymount.  Supplied by Kish Fish, there is always a good supply of fresh Irish-caught fish.
When I cook fish, I usually turn to Rick Stein's Seafood book for ideas.  I love this book for its encyclopedic information on all fish, the easy recipes and photographic step-by-step guide on preparation.  Taking the easy route, this recipe is so simple and easily prepared in advance.
 Hake has a milder more subtle flavour than cod but has similarly textured sweet white flesh.
This is a great main course to make for a crowd, and prepared in advance, it will take only 15-20 minutes in the oven.  You can also serve it in the little packets if you like, letting everyone cut their open at the table and inhale that magic aroma of fresh fish.

Hake en papillote with oven-roasted tomatoes and tapenade.

For 4, you will need:

750g ripe plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons equal mix of sea salt, caster sugar and pepper
Olive oil, for brushing
2 tablespoons shredded basil
4 x 200g hake fillets
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tapenade:
75g pitted Moroccan black olives
4 boquerones - pickled anchovy fillets
25g capers
3 garlic cloves
75ml olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

For the papillote parcels:
4 sheets 38cm / 15" tin foil
4 sheets 38cm / 15" grease proof paper

Prepare ahead the roast tomatoes and the tapenade.

Firstly, quarter the tomatoes, lay them on a baking tray and sprinkle with sea salt, a little sugar, black pepper and thyme leaves.  Roast the plum tomatoes in the oven at about 130 degrees for 11/2 hours until they have shrivelled to about half their original size.

Make the tapenade buy blitzing the olives, capers, boquerones and garlic in a food processor until smooth and leaving the blade rotating, add the olive oil in a slow trickle until it is all incorporated and you have a dark shiny tapenade.  Season well with black pepper and spoon in to sterilised glass jars, seal and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Turn up the oven to 240 degrees.

Season the hake fillets on both sides generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Lay one square of tin foil on top of one square of grease proof paper.
Brush the lower half of the tinfoil with olive oil and lay on 4 quarters of roasted tomato.  Sprinkle with shredded basil.  The lay on the hake fillet, skin-side up on top of the tomato and basil.

Fold over the foil and grease-proof paper and start securing at the right hand side by folding the edges over on themselves.  Seal all around the edges, ensuring that there are no gaps for the steam to escape.  Finish by giving the folded edge a good bash with a rolling pin.  Now you can either cook it or store it in the fridge until you are ready to do so - just ensure that before you place the fish on the tomatoes and seal up the parcel, the tomatoes are completely cold.

Place the parcels on a baking sheet and bake at 240 degrees for 15 minutes.

The fish cooks in the trapped steam, puffing up the little pillows.  Serve these straight from the oven on a warmed plate and let everyone cut into their own parcel, letting the sweet smells escape over the dinner table.
We ate this with some baby new potatoes, the tapenade and some fresh asparagus.
Delicious and very easy.

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