Hake with Sage & Spinach

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Preparation info

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Hake is the favourite fish of Portugal and adored on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, but not greatly respected here. An Atlantic fish, it is mainly caught by our fishermen to export to those countries... an odd thought, but typical of how we deal with so much of what is taken off these shores.

The best cuts are deemed to be fillets taken from the upper part of the backs of large fish, though steaks cut across from whole smaller hake are also prized. The first cooking method is for steaks cut from a large fish. The second, for cylindrical steaks taken from a smaller whole fish, demands an oven-roasting technique which is also a good way of cooking any small fish on the bone, like the red mullet below.


  • 450 g/1 lb spinach
  • 8 small sage leaves
  • 4 hake steaks, each weighing about 200-210 g/7-7½ oz
  • 85 g/3 oz flour
  • 5 tbsp light olive oil
  • ½ nutmeg
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper



Put a pan of lightly salted water to heat. Pick over and destalk the spinach. Preheat the grill and put over a low heat a heavy non-stick frying pan large enough to hold the fish steaks in one layer.

Blanch the spinach for 30-45 seconds in the fast boiling water, refresh in cold water and drain. Reserve.

Press 2 sage leaves into each steak and dredge with the flour seasoned with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper.


Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in the warming heavy pan, turn the heat up to medium and lay the steaks in it. Brown the undersides for 2 minutes. Brush the tops of the steaks with a little more oil and put under the grill to finish for 3 minutes.

Alternatively, if your heavy non-stick frying pan is ovenproof, preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/gas9 and put the pan of fish into the oven rather than under the grill and roast for 12-15 minutes.

The fish will pull easily away from the spinal bone when cooked.

Transfer to a warmed serving plate and wipe out the pan. Add the remaining oil and, when hot, toss the spinach briefly in it. Grate over nutmeg to taste and some pepper. Transfer to the serving plate.


Dress with the juice from the lemon and serve at once.

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