December 1997

Brixham, Devon 30 December 1997 How I love fish from the cold waters of our English Channel and Atlantic, netted by local trawlers and landed at fishing ports such as Exmouth or nearby Brixham. Indeed, it is easy to undervalue such plentiful and still relatively inexpensive white fish such as cod and hake, but when really fish, the firm fillets can be as sweet and as sea fresh as anything you've ever tasted. Indeed, with such raw materials at hand, there is little that can beat that national favourite, really well fried fish and chips, though sadly all too often this original English fast food is a sad and soggy disappointment.
Admittedly locals are on the whole less than imaginative in appreciating the bounty landed literally right before us; contrast the gusto with which our French and Spanish counterparts gobble up fish and shellfish from the same waters which many here turn their noses up at: spider crabs, razor shell clams (incredibly sweet and delicious when fresh), or hake (which is often fed to cats in Britain -- lucky cats). One of the simplest and most delicious ways of preparing the latter is the Basque classic merluza en salsa verde, hake in green sauce.

Merluza in Salsa Verde

Hake in Green Sauce

Half a cup extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

4 thick hake steaks (or cod)

Half a cup of dry white wine

Handful of finely chopped parsley

Salt and black pepper

Lightly warm the olive oil in a flameproof earthenware dish or skillet and gently stew the garlic until lightly golden. Remove garlic and half the oil, then add the fish steaks and gently warm over a flame, shaking the pan in a circular movement. Add the rest of the oil and garlic and continue to shake the pan, then turn up the heat, add the white wine, and reduce vigorously to make a creamy emulsified sauce. Add the parlsey, season with salt and pepper and serve with boiled potatoes.

Wine Suggestion: The classic wine to accompany this Basque favourite is the light, zesty Txacoli, made and usually available only in this corner of Northern Spain. Try a bone dry Portuguese vinho verde, or else one of the new wave fashionable Albariños from Galicia, the peachy, creamy fruit an intriguing match to the creamy, naturally rich sauce.

Copyright © Marc Millon 2000


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Copyright © Marc and Kim Millon 2000