Day 11: Hake, Celeriac Puree, Braised Lentils & Wild Mushrooms
inspired by Port Gaverne Hotel
I seem to be making a habit of cooking things that Aidan has eaten in restaurants. Annoyingly he nearly always orders better than me. I hate to admit it, but he does!
After our starter of Potted Shrimps I decided to cook hake for our main course. It seemed to be fancy enough for date night!
I had no idea hake and wild mushrooms were so good together until I tried this (yes I was stealing Aidan’s food again!) at the Port Gaverne Hotel.
My family all headed down to Cornwall to celebrate my mums 60th birthday. I had never even heard of Port Gaverne before, although nearby Port Isaac is famous because of Nathan Outlaw’s restaurants. Maybe once I’ve practiced my fish cookery a little more I try something from his menus!
This is one of my mums favourite hotels in Cornwall… and I can see why! Amazing location, gorgeous views, wonderful rooms and really good food! My mum actually has her own blog, called With Sea Views where you can read more about it. Like mother, like daughter I guess!
So fish and mushrooms…. no idea why it works. But it does. After a bit of searching I found the menu from winter 2018 and this is the dish Aidan had…
“Hake, celeriac puree, braised lentils, black cabbage & wild mushrooms”
I found hake in the supermarket easily enough. Anyone else noticed that the most popular fish seems to be disappearing quickly (haven’t seen much fresh salmon recently) but others sit on the shelves? Hake doesn’t seem to be on many peoples quarantine shopping lists apparently….
Sadly no black cabbage so I got some rainbow chard instead (mainly because it looks pretty!) But otherwise I was good to go!
To be honest this dish was simpler than it sounds. The puree and the lentils I made in advance so they only needed warming through when I came to cook the fish, greens and mushrooms, all separately pan fried (this recipe is not good for those adverse to washing up!)
The lentils are loosely based on the recipe for Castelluccio lentils in the Trullo cookbook. This recipe calls for carrot, onion and celery to be cooked slowly until it’s a “vegetal mass” – I don’t know why but I love that phrase!
After starting so well I did manage to have a mini meltdown…
It was inevitable really as I’m not the best at multitasking. My comfort zone is more one pot cooking rather than lots of individually bits and bobs.
I’m also not very confident cooking pieces of fish or meat – I always worry I will undercook chicken, overcook fish etc…
It starts when I take the hake out of the packet. There’s no skin on the fillets! I know how to pan fry a piece of fish with skin on (basically put it skin side down for most of the cooking and just flip it over at the end). But what do I do now??
I’m instantly terrified its going to fall apart in the pan, that it’s going to stick, that it’s going to burn. For the first time I feel the pressure of starting this blog – what if after all this cooking all I end up with is a pot of lentils?!
Aidan steps in as I take a couple of deep breaths and turn the mushrooms instead. I can cope with vegetables you see…
And he cooked the fish beautifully. Hot oil in a pan and then two minutes on one side, turn over, add butter to the pan and then baste constantly with butter until it’s cooked (for our fillets is was about another two minutes).
So once again I can’t take full credit for this dish. But I realise a night in cooking with my husband is even better than a night out. Especially when he does the washing up!
Hake, Celeriac Puree, Lentils, Chard & Wild Mushrooms
- 250 g green lentils (or whatever type you can find!)
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stick celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- ½ celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 knob butter
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 150 g mixed wild mushrooms
- 1 knob butter
- 1 bunch swiss chard, or other leafy green veg
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- juice ½ lemon
- 2 hake fillets (could be with with or without skin!)
- tbsp olive oil
- 1 knob butter
- juice ½ lemon
- 1 tsp chopped parsley
- First make the celeriac puree. Put the celeriac, peeled garlic clove and thyme in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add salt and put on to boil. Once boiling cook for about half an hour. You want the celeriac to be really soft and break apart if squeezed
- Drain and remove the thyme. Put the celeriac and garlic back on the hob to dry out. You don't want any excess moisture
- Add the celeriac, garlic and butter to a food processor and blend. Add cream and seasoning and blend again until smooth. Put aside and reheat before serving
- Next make the lentils. Blitz the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor. Heat olive oil in a heavy based pan and add the blitzed veg along with the bay and thyme. You want to cook it for about 30 minutes on a low heat, until it looks (as Tim Siadatan of Trullo says) like a "soft, vegetal mass"
- Add the anchovies and cook until broken up and mixed into the veg
- Rinse the lentils under the cold tap and let drain. Then add them to the pan and cover with boiling water. There should be about an inch of water over the lentils and veg. Tuck some parchment paper over the top and leave to bubbe away for about 45 minutes. Add more water if needed. You want the lentils to be soft but not mushy. Stir in the chopped parsley and keep warm until ready to serve
- Make sure the mushrooms are clean. Tear any larger mushooms into pieces
- In a frying pan melt the butter on a medium heat. Once foaming add the mushrooms, season and cook until nicely brown
- Slice the chard. Heat the oil in a pan and add the stalks. After a minute add the leaves. Once they start to wilt take off the heat and season. Squeeze over the lemon juice
- Take the fillets out of their packaging and pat dry with kitchen paper. Season both sides with salt and pepper
- Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. Add the fillets and cook for two minutes. Gently flip over, add the butter and continue to cook whilst basting the fish with the melted butter.
- If there are two of you in the kitchen one person cooks the fish whilst the other plates the rest of the ingredients!
- Finally add the fish on top of the puree, lentils and greens. Squeeze over lemon juice and scatter with parsley. Add the mushrooms around the plate.
- Now enjoy with a large glass of wine! You've earnt it!