hake with bacon, peas and cider
 

With its firm juicy flesh and fine flavour, hake lends itself perfectly to this quick-casserole approach. It keeps softly bouncy after its gentle poaching in crisp cider, sweet peas and salty bacon. I use a shallow, enamelled cast-iron casserole for this, but all that matters is that the pan you use is heavy-based, its lid tight-fitting, and that it is wide enough for the peas not to be too heaped up nor for the fish fillets to sit too tightly packed on top.

serves 2 people

2 tsp olive oil
75g streaky bacon, snipped into approx 1cm strips 200g frozen petits pois
250m/ dry cider
2 thick hake fillets or other firm white fish (approx 200g each), skin on
4 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Warm the olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy-based pan that comes with a lid, then stir in the bacon and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or so, or until it is crisped at the edges, turning golden brown in parts, and the fat has rendered. Turn the heat up and add the peas, stirring them in the bacon, so that the look of the freezer has left them slightly and they are glossed in bacon fat.

Pour in the cider and let it come to the boil, then turn the heat down a little so that the cider simmers enthusiastically for about 5 minutes until the peas are cooked. They will have lost their bright green colour, but that's how it should be. Taste to see if you need to add sea salt flakes; this will depend on how salty the bacon is.

Add the fish, skin side down, to the pan of peas and bacon, put on the lid and leave to simmer, now a little less excitedly — so keep an eye on the heat — for 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Check to see if the fish is cooked in the centre: I push a sharp knife through the side. If there is still a little pinkness within, put the lid back on, but turn off the heat, and let the fish stand and finish cooking tenderly in the residual heat for 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Transfer each fish fillet, skin side down, to the centre of a dinner plate, then sprinkle a little sea salt and grind some pepper over it. Stir most of the parsley into the peas and bacon in the pan, then arrange around the fish, in slightly retro fashion. Spoon the cidery juices over each fillet and sprinkle the remaining parsley on top.