Friday, 17 April 2015

Baked Hake with Fennel Chive Butter

When I saw the frozen hake fillets in one of our local grocery stores, I was really excited. I grew up with hake, and this was imported from South Africa. Naturally, I bought some...

I chose to sear and bake the fish and serve it with a simple herb butter, using the last 1/4 cup of butter in the fridge, and adding some fresh herbs from the garden. This allowed the fish to be the star of the meal. I added some asparagus and a green salad to round out the meal.

I had a lemon to use, and picked some fresh chives and fennel leaves from my herb garden.

Grate the zest from the lemon, and finely chop the herbs.

Stir or whip 1/4 cup of softened butter until it starts to become creamy and fluffy.

the zest from the lemon
the chopped herbs
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste, start with 1/2 teaspoon

When everything is well combined, divide the herbed butter into 5 small balls, and place onto plastic wrap.

Cover with more plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.

Heat the oven to 375F.

Add some olive oil to a hot pan.

Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper.

Add the fish to the pan and quickly sear both sides. Put it into the oven to finish cooking; this took about 6 minutes.

Serve the fish alongside the asparagus and salad. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fish, using the zested lemon. Top each serving with a piece of the herb butter, which will melt and create a light butter sauce.

  • Flavoured butters are a good choice to serve with fish or steak that has been simply prepared...baked or grilled. They are also something that can be prepared ahead and frozen, and can be adapted to use up just about anything from fresh herbs, spices, cheese or vegetables. Here are some combinations to try: blue cheese and black pepper; basil, rosemary and lemon; garlic and Parmesan; minced fresh ginger, chives and coriander; chipotle peppers in adobe sauce and cumin; minced black olives and sundried tomatoes; chopped capers and dill.
  • The butter can be piped onto parchment paper and frozen, or formed into balls onto the paper as I did. It can also be formed into a log and wrapped in parchment paper or plastic wrap; slice off  a disc for each serving of meat or fish.
  • Other fish that pairs well with flavoured butters are salmon, marlin, snapper or trout. Pasta that is topped with grilled prawns or scallops can also be topped with a flavoured butter. The butter can also be added to fish that is cooked in parchment paper (Sole Baked in Parchment Paper with Capers and Lemon).
  • Add some interest to steamed, grilled or blanched vegetables by tossing them in a bit of herbed butter. Asparagus, green beans, carrots or Brussels sprouts are excellent served this way.
  • Remove the stem from some large mushrooms, and place the butter into the mushroom cap, place in the oven and roast. Drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar just before serving.
  • Use the butter for potatoes...when mashing them, serving baked potatoes or even roasting potatoes. When new potatoes are in season, what could be better than topping them with mint butter?
  • Next time you are roasting a whole chicken or turkey, gently loosen the skin on the breast, and stuff some butter underneath. This will help keep the breast moist during roasting, and will add that extra bit of seasoning.
  • Sweet butter can also be made and served with scones or warm loaves, such as banana or blueberry. Whip the butter with honey, vanilla, sweet spices such as cinnamon or even with melted dark chocolate. This can also be served with waffles or pancakes for brunch.

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