Roast Hake Salad

In the eighties, when hotel chefs still reigned as top dogs, before rising stars like Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White stole a march with their glamorous good looks, the ultimate treat for restaurant critics like me was lunch with the chef in his office overlooking the worker slaves in the kitchen. On one such occasion, when Anton Mosimann was cooking up a storm at the Dorchester, he served me a white fish salad as a main course. I’d never eaten anything like it before and was slightly taken aback. I shouldn’t have worried, for this master of food had mixed pieces of fish with crisp lettuce and chives in mayo-led vinaigrette. It was delicious and I’ve been making versions of it ever since. If, as happened to me recently, there is leftover roast hake (cod, haddock or salmon), it’s broken into pieces and served over quickly pickled cucumber half moons, little gem lettuce hearts and masses of chives. The dressing a spoonful of mayo (from a jar) thinned with three times as much vinaigrette and a squeeze of lemon. Here the recipe is made from scratch.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 15 min

4 fillets hake

1 lemon

olive oil

½ cucumber

2 tbsp cider or wine vinegar

2 little gem lettuce hearts (or similar)

1 tbsp mayonnaise

3 tbsp vinaigrette

1 tbsp finely sliced chives

     Smear the fish with olive oil and place skin-side down in a small roasting tin. Add a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven (200C) for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove the tin from the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, halve lengthways and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds. Slice thinly into half moons. Place in a shallow dish with the vinegar, tossing to smear all the pieces. Place the mayo in a mixing bowl, stir in a squeeze of lemon and then the vinaigrette, stirring to make a smooth, creamy dressing with pouring consistency. Separate the lettuce leaves, halve lengthways and across the larger leaves. Rinse and dry. Break the cooled fish in pieces off the skin, taking care to remove any bones. Swipe the fish through the dressing and set aside on a plate. Add cucumber, lettuce and half the chives to the dressing, toss thoroughly and pile onto a platter. Arrange the fish on top, scraping out any remaining dressing with a spatula over the top. Scatter with chives and serve.