Hake

It is funny but I often talk about wanting to open a restaurant of some sort and then someone asks me what sort of food it would sell and I am stumped for an answer.

But if pushed I would have say Spanish.

There re a couple of reasons for this. The first is the TV series on Spanish Food that Keith Floyd did about 25 years ago now. I watched every episode and videoed them as well. The video has since been transcribed to a DVD so I can if needs be slip away for a quick fix.

Inevitably there was a book of the TV series and I duly acquired that as well.

Keith Floyd was always fairly free and easy in the kitchen but he seemed more so in Spain and that seemed to bring out the best in the cooking. Good ingredients cooked without fuss with a glass of wine always at hand to help with the chopping and the frying.

In one episode he made a bucket of gazpacho on the beach in Torremolinos with a hand mixer that looked more like an outboard motor.

The second reason for me coming up with Spanish food is that at about the same time the Floyd series was on television good friends moved to Madrid so inevitably some holidays were spent over there. This was when I developed a mild addiction to Paxcharan – but it was also the food.

The first time we went was for Christmas and we did our shopping for the big day in a small local market. Although we were staying in a nondescript suburb of Madrid the market was heaving with good food. We bought a small turkey a      nd also some hake – Merluza – I can still remember where the stall was in the market although I can’t now remember how we cooked it.

I know we had difficulties with the turkey – chiefly because we spent two hours cooking it under a grill before we realised something was wrong. The two hour delay in the cooking was critical as it gave another two hours for the unrestricted consumption of all the beer and wine that had been purchased to go with the meal.

We probably had better meals out in the city – lambs kidneys in sherry, prawns with chilli and garlic, rabbit with garlic, partridge and a plate of perfectly formed and cooked red mullet.

So by way of small tribute to the hake I bought in that market in Madrid 25 years ago I thought I would cook hake last night.

Two thick steaks were duly acquired from Wards Fish.

To cook them I started with a thick cider flavoured tomato sauce. An onion was chopped and cooked until soft in olive oil before being joined by some garlic. I then stirred in a couple of chopped tomatoes and a half bottle of strong cider. This cooked until it was thick and sludgy.

Just before we ate I dipped the hake steaks in some flour which had been well seasoned with salt and pepper. I fried them for a couple of minutes in hot olive oil before laying them in the pan with the sauce. They cooked in there for another five minutes before we ate them with fried potatoes and salad.

We listened to Animals That Swim.

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