Red Wine With Fish. Literati Love It.

The traditionalists amongst you might be a bit horrified at the prospect of drinking red wine with fish. Particularly with a fish as ‘white’ as hake. The key is the other ingredients in this sort of stew / soup / bowl of deliciousness. When you have got over your shock at my suggestion of red wine with fish, I encourage you to try Poached Hake in Tomato and Red Wine Sauce. Anybody who enjoys a good read will love preparing this.

You will need a couple of things to get this to work. Firstly, you need access to big fat, juicy tomatoes. Not big by supermarket standards, but big by “Is that a tomato in your bag or are you just going bowling?” standards.  While we were in France this year, we stopped into the market in Libourne and hefted a few of these beauties to form the basis of the sauce.

The first thing to do was to peel them and remove the core. To get the skin off, I dropped them into boiling water and removed the skins when they split.

The skin simply wipes off after the dunking in boiling water.

It was then a simple, if very messy, job to peel and prepare the tomatoes, remembering to discard the hard core and the skin. All the juice and pulp goes into the pot.

Those are big tomatoes. Big onions too.

The full ingredients list follows;

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 4 cutlets of hake (bone in, skin on)
  • 2 kilos of big fat tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 glasses of robust red wine
  • 1 very generous handful of parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Bread to soak up the sauce

You will also need a strong arm and a good book. The sauce takes an age to prepare. But, it is worth the time and effort as the flavours are fantastic. Slice the onions up nice and small and do likewise with the garlic. Add a couple of gloops of olive oil to a big, deep, pan and then sweat the onions and garlic until they become translucent.

Like I said, big onions. That’s a big sauté pan.

If this is done over a low heat, as it should be, it will take about fifteen minutes.

The French tomatoes have a lovely colour.

Turn the heat to medium and add the tomato sludge (It will be a sludge) and stir until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat a little and stir until the mixture reduces by about a third to a half.

There is a lot of reduction needed to concentrate the sauce.

At this stage, you will have a good portion of that book read. Add the red wine and continue to stir until you get to the chapter where the love interest finally succumbs to the virile and masculine attractiveness of the hero. Put the book away and concentrate on concentrating the sauce. When the alcohol has boiled away, about another ten minutes, taste the sauce and season. Go light on the seasoning as the sauce needs to be reduced again, concentrating the flavours of the ingredients, including the seasoning. Turn the heat down to a simmer and go find your book. You will only need to stir this occasionally over the next hour or so.

When the sauce is very thick and akin to a soup, chop and add the parsley.

The parsley adds another dimension of flavour.

Stir this in and then add the fish pieces. Try to get them to float as I did. By preventing them getting sauce on, they look fantastic when served.

Seeing fish floating is not usually a good sign. It is here.

Leave the fish for about ten minutes, no more, in the simmering sauce. This will be enough time to poach them. Serve with more robust red wine and plenty of dipping bread.

I served plenty of bread to soak up that sweet sauce.

Let your loved ones do the washing up. You have done your bit in preparing this delightful and simple fish dish. You can finish your reading. I don’t mean to spoil the ending but, the guy gets the girl and they discover oil on their arid, dried-up farm, just before the bank manages to foreclose. They have fifteen children and they all live happily ever after. As will you if you try this lovely meal (Live happily, that is, not the fifteen squalkers).

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Latest comments
  • Do the literati literally love it?

  • Red wine and fish… The best kept secret! 😉 Brilliant recipe!

  • You’d get a lot of takers for that dish in Spain, where red wine is often chilled when the weather gets hot.

      • They say, that in a blind tasting, most people can’t tell the difference between red and white served at room temperature.

  • Those tomatoes are incredible! I wish the ones from my garden were that beautiful! A lovely fish dish. I imagine it would be good with white wine as well…

  • Looks good. My grandma used to make a similar looking dish with haddock, and I don’t recall ever seeing a bottle of white wine on her table.

  • Myam! I can’t drink red wine on its own, but have no trouble with it when used in cooking. Think I’ll visit the fisherman’s market tomorrow. We don’t get hake up here, but I reckon a bit of barramundi would work a treat…

      • We certainly do. Just north of us is the main tomato growing area for the entire east coast. I have gone up there and bought a whole tray of perfectly ripe, just picked toms and splashed around happily bottling tomato sauce. I have a pressure canner, so I don’t have to worry about high acidity tomatoes, etc, I can use whatever is ripe and perfect.

  • I love the combination of fish and tomatoes. I have a nice hunk of salmon in the fridge right now. I also have some good red wine. Gotta go hit the library for a book, though.

  • Oh methinks the romantic in me will keep on reading and forget the pan on the stove 🙂 ! Was not aware I was such an old-fashioned snob as to say I had certainly cooked fish with red wine but could not imagine pouring a glass to go with that wonderful-looking meal . . . well, have always loved the beautiful dry whites out our way . . . but shall try anything you have enjoyed . . .

  • Great dish, Conor. Jealous of those tomatoes. Red wine in the sauce definitely works with fish. Red wine to drink alongside will depend on which red wine. Some reds will produce an unpleasant metallic taste when combined with white fish.

  • Gorgeous! I’ve no problem pairing red wine with fish. Sure, aren’t rules there to be broken. Not sure I’ll ever get tomatoes that good round theses parts though.

  • I’m glad to see you’ve finally brought books into your cooking, Conor. It’s about time. Although take a leaf out of mine and don’t mix good food with your romantic heroes. It gets SO messy.

      • I would truly love to see that. Not to pressure you or anything but if you don’t do it you will have officially ruined 2017. Just sayin’.

          • But you have the ingredients right there, Conor, no? The recipe will write itself. Just put everything in the bowl and wait for it to rise…

  • I’ve cooked white fish many a times with tomatoes, but never thought to add red wine instead of white. Those tomatoes are deserving of a gold medal at the county fair, they are simply gorgeous and I’m sure tasted as wonderful as they look! The “real book” you were reading was a great choice, too! I love to read, but definitely not romances.

  • I bet I would enjoy this. I’ve had fish with red wine (sans tomato) and like it a lot. And I’ve had fish with tomato, of course… so why not both?

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