Roast Lemon Hake with Salsa Verde

I love mint and it always gives me a frisson of pleasure when I see the first leaves curling out of my enduring mint patch. I picked enough of the pink-flushed early little leaves to make salsa verde and they sang through assertive flat leaf parsley, anchovy, capers and garlic, in this versatile mayo-style dark green sauce.  It’s particularly good with fish, turning a simple fish supper into a real treat. Any firm white fish fillets are good for this recipe. Wild Cornish sea bass would be a lovely choice but any member of the cod family except ling, which is too soft and bony, would work well. Look out for hake, a member of the whiting/cod family we should embrace more. It’s much prized by the Spanish, who buy the majority of the hake caught in the British Isles.  I’ve seen fillet upon fillet of merluza laid out on the wet fish counter at my brother’s local supermarket in Moraira, southern Spain but it can be hard to find here. It’s softer than cod with a milder flavour but has similarly large bones that are easy to detect. It roasts perfectly.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 10 min

4 fillets hake, Pollack, cod or sea bass

2 tbsp olive oil

½ (half) lemon

for the salsa verde

80g flat leaf parsley

10 basil leaves

15 mint leaves

1 tbsp Maille or Greys Poupon Dijon mustard

6 anchovy fillets

1 tbsp capers

2 garlic cloves

150ml best olive oil

lemon wedges to serve

Begin by making the salsa verde. Pick the leaves off the parsley stalks into the bowl of a food processor. Add basil and mint, mustard, anchovy, capers and 2 tbsp oil. Crack the garlic with your fist, flake away the skin, halve lengthways, discard the green shoot inside, chop and crush with a generous pinch salt. Add to the mix. Process for a couple of minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the insides of the bowl. With the machine running, add the rest of the oil in a thin stream, as if you were making mayonnaise; in fact, the finished sauce should look like coarse, green mayonnaise. Season with pepper. Cover and chill until required. Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Line a small baking tin with foil and add a splash of olive oil. Arrange the fillets over the oil then splash with a little more. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 6-10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillets, until just cooked through. Serve the fish dribbled with juices, a generous dollop of salsa verde and a lemon wedge.