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