hake with chilli breadcrumbs, haricot and kale

Florence Knight

The flesh of raw hake is soft and milky, but when cooked it becomes firm, sweet and meaty. This fish, often overlooked, is more reasonably priced than cod and a good, sustainable choice. It’s important to use good-quality bread as this makes the best breadcrumbs, so I would go for an Italian rustic loaf such as Pugliese or a good white sourdough.

serves 4 people

100g bread
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, crushed or grated
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 unwaxed lemon, zested and ½ juiced
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely grated or crushed
480g cannellini beans (drained weight), drained and rinsed
200ml vegetable stock
100g kale, tough stalks removed
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 x 200g hake steaks (bone-in is best)

Remove the crusts from the bread and crumble or blitz to an even medium crumb. Heat the olive oil in a large wide-bottomed pan over low heat. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes to infuse the oil, being careful not to burn the garlic. Stir through the breadcrumbs until evenly coated with the oil. Turn up the heat a little and cook the crumbs for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often, until crisp and golden. Spoon the crumbs onto kitchen paper. Add the chilli flakes, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and set aside.

Set a medium-sized pan over a low heat. Pour in the extra-virgin olive oil, add 1 tsp salt and cook the garlic for 3 minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Stir through the cannellini beans and vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the kale leaves to the pot and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the lemon juice. Cover with a lid and set aside.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Season the hake steaks with salt. Once the pan is hot, lower in the fish and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. This will depend on the thickness of the steak. If you’re unsure, you can test by inserting the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part — it should go straight through and be warm to the touch.

Spoon the warm cannellini beans and kale onto each plate, top with the golden hake steaks and scatter over the breadcrumbs.