Hake is one of those fish that are really easy to get a hold of and tastes amazing. If you haven’t tried hake before, it’s a really meaty white fish that has a similar taste to haddock but a texture more like sea bass – the perfect combination for grilling.
The fish alone is a great meal, but sitting it on top of a bed of pearl barley risotto adds a whole new texture dimension to the dish. Although it sounds like there’s a lot of work involved, it actually doesn’t require a lot of prep time at all.
Pearl barley is really easy to cook with and grilling the hake only requires some seasoning, a splash of oil and then just a quick flip under the grill mid-way through. Simple.
- 100g dried pearl barley
- 5-6 mini portobello mushrooms (sliced roughly)
- 2 spring onions (finely chopped)
- 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
- 3 asparagus tips
- Half a lemon
- 200ml vegetable stock
- 50ml white wine
- 250g hake fillet
- Handful of fresh dill (chopped)
- Glug of olive oil
- Heat a frying pan over a medium/high heat and add a splash of rapeseed oil to it. If you don't have rapeseed oil, you can use olive oil or vegetable oil - I tend to use rapeseed oil as it is really low in cholesterol and adds a nice nutty flavour. Once the oil has heated up, add the pearl barley and coat lightly in the oil. Stir the pan frequently for around 30 seconds and then add the spring onion and garlic and stir for another 30 seconds.
- Add the white wine to the pan and simmer it until the pearl barley absorbs it all. This should only take a couple of minutes but make sure you're stirring everything around consistently.
- Add the mushrooms, asparagus and the zest of your half lemon (keep this to one side as you'll use the juice for the fish) to the pan, season everything well with salt/pepper and then add around 50ml of the vegetable stock. Keep everything moving around and wait until the stock is close to being completely absorbed until you add any more. Keep adding stock and stirring the pan until it is all gone - this should take about 20 minutes and the key here is not to overflow the pan with stock. Be patient otherwise it will turn into a starchy mess.
- After the stock has been used up, check that the pearl barley has softened. It should still have a slightly chewy texture to it but there shouldn't be any hard pieces in there. Once you're at this stage, the risotto is ready, so remove it from the heat.
- The fish will take around 12 minutes to cook in a medium/high heat grill, so you'll want to add it in after around 10-15 minutes into your risotto cooking. Before you put the hake into the grill you'll want to scatter the chopped dill across the top, season well with salt (be liberal in seasoning hake) and drizzle with olive oil (especially the skin so that it goes nice and crispy).
- Place under the grill, skin-side up and leave for around 12 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn the fillets over.
- Serve the hake on a small bed of pearl barley risotto and garnish with some fresh dill and lemon zest.