Monthly Archives: April 2017

Hake Recipes

Ideas for Hake Recipes

As we went to press*, the Marine Conservation Society gave Cape hake a rating of 2 (1 = fully sustainable; 5 = unsustainable), making it a reasonably good choice. European hake are not so sustainable. The fish is in season from about July to January.

Hake is not an attractive fish. At first sight it resembles a silvery trout, without the rainbow or pebbledash effect. Closer inspection reveals bulging eyes, vicious jaws and ragged fins. Trying to source an attractive photo for you, dear reader, The Taster was momentarily unnerved by various photographers’ attempts to render the fish less repellent by, for example, placing a cherry tomato between its razor fangs, or artfully coiling it to appear to be, rather painfully, biting its own tail. We advise against such tricks. Just chop it into steaks.

Hake Recipes
Our artist’s impression of the horrid sight that is a live hake

On the up side, hake is an excellent substitute for cod (for which the sustainability issues are so complex, it is simpler just to buy something else). As a firm white fish it is perfect for:

  • Goan fish curry: marinade in tamarind, garlic, chilli, ginger, coriander & turmeric; onion & tomato; and coconut milk
  • Alternatively, buy a fish rub from Dhaniya — they do the work for you
  • The MCS recommends poached hake with lemon juice
  • Battered hake with chips and peas also works. Whisky together 340g self-raising flour, a pinch of salt and 250ml cold beer. Dip pieces of hake in it before deep-frying in a very hot, mild vegetable oil
  • Fishcakes or fish fingers — just combine with egg, mix in herbs (parsley is the obvious one) to your own taste shape, roll in breadcrumbs and fry as above
  • With a crust — the Seafood Emporium Ramus suggests encrusting a thick hake fillet with chopped parsley, tomatoes, shallots, breadcrumbs, chilli, lemon and crabmeat; then serving with seasonal greens and shellfish mayonnaise. There is no way that this will not be utterly delicious; see the whole recipe HERE

A little cream, reduced Pinot Grigio and fish stock makes a delicious sauce for any white fish. To make it more interesting, throw in a few cockles or shrimps, or parsley and fresh coriander leaves, and serve with green veg, bread and butter.

Ramus recommends a cold, crisp Muscadet with their hake recipe.

watercress recipes healthy

Our wine buff, Richard J Smith of the Wine Schools of Cheshire & London, has not yet penned his thoughts for us on hake, but he has on haddock (a close match). For this, he suggests English wines made with the bacchus grape (which has been so instrumental in helping propel English wines up the rungs of glory in international wine competitions, recently). As with all grapes, (he says), bacchus tastes a little different depending on where it is grown. Foxhole Vineyard Bacchus 2015 from the Bolney Estate, Sussex, is “a cut above — in fact, the best English Bacchus I’ve tasted, not dissimilar to a classic Sancerre. It’s a few pounds more but you can see where the money is.” £16.99 from Bolney Wine Estate.

chef150The Taster hopes this page has given you a few ideas and useful links. For more ingredients, click HERE.

*This article was first published in The Taster magazine, Summer 2015. Richard’s notes on bacchus wines appeared in the Summer 2016 issue.

Hake Recipes The Taster

National Tea Day

Teatotal? You betcha!

This past summer, I gave up drinking my usual three pints a day of heavily stewed Yorkshire Gold tea. Bar one — Barry’s Irish Breakfast — it’s the strongest tea you can get. I love it, but felt that consumption had become excessive.

The Taster
Qi Teas

There were no withdrawal cravings, but there was a continuous two-day headache. After which, I found myself rising in the mornings in an altogether lighter, brighter, more energetic mood. It seems that once the habit is broken, that feeling of gasping for the first cuppa of the day simply disappears.

As an aside on the power of caffeine — when the EU referendum was held a few weeks later in June*, a single pint of tea at 1am kept me wide-eyed and bouncing with energy throughout the night until David Dimbleby’s momentous ‘We’re out’ announcement, shortly before 5am. (And then, and then – if memory serves correctly, although a certain amount of sleep-deprived haze might be obscuring matters — I’m pretty sure that somewhere between 6 and 9am I then baked and iced several dozen fairy cakes and set off, slightly manic, to help man the cake stand at a fundraiser for the local school. Whoohoo, who needs drugs to stay awake?)

Socially, however, it’s difficult to avoid tea entirely. After a few caffeine-free weeks, I had a cup of Earl Grey with friends. Because I don’t care for coffee and it was too early to hit the gin.

After so many years of extra-strength builder’s tea, the Earl Grey tasted terrible. Pallid and bland and watery dishwater.

Needing a social-drinking tea, I stuck with the Earl Grey. And then something unexpected happened. Having given my tastebuds to recover from the years of tannin-drenched builder’s tea — I gradually, eventually, found it to be the delicious, delicate drink I last enjoyed as a teenager.

I’m not the only one rediscovering tea. Despite the plethora of high street coffee shops, we in Britain are and always have been a nation of tea-drinkers. We drink 165 million cups a day (three times as many as coffee). And just as coffee has undergone something of a renaissance, with single-origin varieties and improved preparation techniques, loose-leaf and speciality teas are also ready for a comeback. Now we have functional teas, teas for different times of the day, teas that help you get going and teas that purport to help you go to sleep. There is no longer any time of day when an appropriate cup of tea is not an option.

Imagine the fun we’re going to have. There never was anything more British, after all, than arguing about how to brew tea, even among those who use teabags. Are you a dunker? How many minutes should the bag be left in? Do you squeeze the bag? To say nothing of milk and sugar issues.

Inspired by the Earl Grey, I’m dusting off a teapot. Being Editor of The Taster, I’m thinking of organic and Fairtrade teas such as those produced by Qi Teas (from China);  Tchai Ovna (Scotland’s original Tea House, in Glasgow – stocks over 100 delicious and nutritional teas; they also run a vegetarian restaurant) and the Hebridean Tea Store (100+ selection of teas, 100% natural & organic and yes, amazingly,  put together on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Let none of us ever claim to have been limited by mere geography.)

As an Editor, I get an awful lot of press releases about tea. But a genuinely interesting one is that, recently, a London School of Tea has launched. Well, what better capital city for it? Given our reputation as a nation of tea-drinkers, I find this an immensely pleasing event. The School offers training to commercial clients — restaurants, tea-shops and so on — but also to novices who wish to excel in the art of tea-making. Sensory training is provided, among other exciting topics. The founder of the School, Lucy Chappell-Wright, has about as extensive a CV in Tea as can be imagined. She has worked at a tea estate in Darjeeling, a research centre in Assam, the National Institute of Tea Management in Bengal, and she has also studied the Japanese tea ritual in Osaka. According to Lucy, teas can be matched to foods just as wine can; a topic we’ll be looking at in our Summer issue (due out June 2017; subscribe here if you’d like a lovely printed paper copy – so retro, so Hipster!).

Enjoy National Tea Day. To my mind, teatotalism – har har – has never looked so appealing  ♥ — C T-P, Editor The Taster

UPDATE: since writing this piece, our Editor has discovered Assam tea — the connoisseur’s answer to Builder’s/morning tea — and, swayed by several reports that tea (along with about three dozen other food items, but what the hey) contains the secret of eternal and youthful life, is back on three pints a day.

To take a course or learn more about tea, see

To get 15% discount off Qi Teas, quote code TASTER15

*The main body of this article was first published in The Taster magazine, Winter 2016-17. Back issues and new subscriptions are available, at incredibly good value, here

The Taster


Great Glen CharcuterieWild venison charcuterie

This is a delicious, healthy and sustainable meat. In the Scottish hills, deer roam freely, feeding on heather, wild plants and grass. As well as making the venison taste fantastic, it is low fat and high in iron, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B, and 20% of the daily requirement of selenium and zinc.

With no natural predators, the population has to be managed to protect the environment from overgrazing. Great Glen Charcuterie, a family business based in the rugged Highlands of Scotland, uses sustainably sourced local wild venison. Excepting its venison & pork items, all Great Glen products are 100% wild Scottish venison. The salami has won multiple awards, including three Great Taste stars and beating a very good Spanish chorizo and air-dried Iberico Bellota jambon to win the Best Charcuterie category.

Great Glen still has a butcher’s shop in the tiny Highlands village of Roy Bridge but, if you can’t make it there, order from