Salt hake with squid ink, parsley and tomato and garlic sauce

Salt hake with squid ink, parsley and tomato and garlic sauce

British Seafood
David Loftus

Salting fish in this way draws out some of the water and improves the flavour and texture, giving you a much meatier mouth-feel. It works particularly well with hake. Try blending a little spice or the grated zest of any citrus fruit with the salt to bring your own touch to this dish.


Quantity Ingredient
4 hake portions, filleted and pin-boned
2 medium squid, prepared and cut into rings, (see note)
100g sea salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
olive oil, for cooking
100g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 cm dice
1 leek, trimmed, washed and cut into 1 cm pieces, (white part only)
1 dutch red chilli, deseeded and chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Tomato and garlic sauce

Quantity Ingredient
500ml Roast fish stock
4 ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 teaspoons squid ink, or more to taste
50g unsalted butter

To finish

Quantity Ingredient
extra virgin olive oil


  1. Lay the fish on a tray large enough to hold the portions side by side, without overlapping. Sprinkle evenly with the sea salt, turning to coat both sides, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Wash the salt off the fish, then pat dry on kitchen paper and wrap each portion tightly in cling film. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm up, preferably overnight.
  2. To make the tomato and garlic sauce, put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let bubble until the liquid has reduced to a quarter of its original volume. Transfer to a blender or food processor. Blitz for 4 minutes to emulsify the sauce and thicken it slightly. Set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Heat your oven to 200°C. Chop the 2 garlic cloves, then add the chopped parsley and chop together; reserve until serving.
  4. Heat a large non-stick pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the squash and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the leek, chilli and spring onions and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring and adding a little more oil if it looks dry. Season with salt and pepper. Once the squash is cooked, transfer the vegetables to a warmed dish; keep warm.
  5. Heat a large ovenproof non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of oil. When hot, place the fish in the pan, skin side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to the oven and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  6. While the fish is cooking, place another frying pan over a medium heat and add a little olive oil. When hot, add the squid and cook for 1 minute; don’t move it about much – let it take on some colour. Add 1 teaspoon of the chopped garlic and parsley and take off the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Reheat the sauce gently on the hob; if it isn’t dark enough for you, whisk in a little more squid ink. Take the fish out of the oven as soon as it is ready. Flip it over and allow it to finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan.
  8. Divide the vegetables between 4 warmed plates and top with the squid. Place the hake alongside and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and garlic. Spoon the sauce around and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Preparing squid

  • Make sure your squid is clean and white, with no pink tinges. Holding the body in one hand, grab the head and pull it firmly and carefully – the innards that are attached to it will come away with it. If the squid hasn’t released its ink already, you’ll find the ink sac within the innards.

    Pull the fins or ‘wings’ away from the sides of the body. Now remove the purplish skin covering the body. Carefully scrape the body and fins with your knife to remove any ink or excess skin and give the fins a quick rinse.

    Returning to the head, take hold of the tentacles and squeeze the head to remove the sharp beak, pulling it out. Using a sharp knife, cut the tentacles away from the head, just under the eyes. Rinse the tentacles.

    Finally, pull out the plastic-looking quill from the body and any other insides that look as though they shouldn’t be there. Give the body a quick rinse. At this point you can cut the squid body open or slice it into rings. The fins can also be cut into smaller pieces. Cook the body, fins and tentacles as required.
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