Merluza a la vasca - Basque hake

Merluza a la vasca - Basque hake
Merluza a la vasca - Basque hake Photo: Travel and Leisure Magazine

The Basques use hake in this iconic local dish. Blue eye is a good substitute. T&L Note: You can use blue eye fillets rather than cutlets. If so, keep the skin on. Wine suggestion: Martinsancho 2007 Verdejo, Rueda, Spain $34


4 large blue-eye cutlets (about 200g each), skin on (see note)

Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons plain flour, plus more for dusting the fish

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups fish stock  

12 clams, scrubbed

2/3 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

Crusty bread, for serving


Rub the fish with salt and white pepper and let stand for 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy-based frying pan over medium-low heat. Dust the fish very lightly with flour. Cooking two pieces of fish at a time, add the fish to the pan and cook for 30 seconds on each side. Set fish aside.

Add the garlic and half the parsley to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, until the garlic is very fragrant but not browned.  Add the 2 teaspoons flour and stir for another 30 seconds. Add wine and fish stock, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook the sauce, stirring, until it thickens a little, about 2 minutes.

Return the fish to the pan. (If using fillets rather than cutlets, arrange them skin side down.) Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the fish over, then add the clams and peas. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the fish just flakes when prodded with a fork and the clams open. Stir in the remaining parsley. Taste the sauce for seasoning, adding salt and/or white pepper as necessary. Transfer to a deep serving dish. Serve with the bread to mop up the sauce.