Bruce Rennie of The Shore restaurant in Penzance gives us his recipe for Cornish hake, brandade, aioli and peppers.

Cod may have been recently confirmed as a sustainable fish, but, in Cornwall, hake is definitely the catch of the day.

‘Cornish hake is an absolute pleasure to both cook and eat,’ says Bruce Rennie, head chef and owner of The Shore restaurant in Penzance. 

‘As well as being very tasty and well textured, what makes it stand out is the way the fishermen treat it – when it gets to the market floor, it really is among the best quality you’ll see.’

Try it for yourself – here’s Bruce’s recipe for Cornish hake, brandade, aioli and peppers.

Cornish hake, brandade, aioli and peppers

Ingredients

  • 2 large fillets of Cornish MSC hake (cut 6 portions from the thick end of the fillets and set aside)

For the brandade

  • 500g hake from the thin end of the fillets
  • 60g coarse sea salt
  • 20g caster sugar
  • Small pinch saffron thread (optional)
  • 3g dried fennel seeds
  • 2g crushed white peppercorns
  • Milk (to cook the fish)
  • 250g floury potatoes
  • 100ml extra-virgin olive oil

For the peppers

  • 2 firm red peppers
  • 2 firm yellow peppers
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sea salt
  • 6tbspn olive oil
  • Small pinch smoked sweet paprika
  • Dash of Tabasco

For the aioli

  • 1tbspn white-wine vinegar
  • Small pinch saffron strands (optional)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tbspn Dijon mustard
  • 3 peeled and crushed cloves garlic
  • 300ml olive oil

Method

The brandade

To make the brandade, cover the 500g of hake evenly with the salt, sugar, saffron, fennel seeds and peppercorns, then leave in the fridge for 24 hours. Rinse the fish in cold water and dry with a kitchen towel. In a pan, cover the hake with milk and cook on a medium heat until it flakes apart, then drain.

Boil the potatoes in unsalted water until tender, then combine with the hake in a food processor, drizzling in the olive oil as you blend.

Next, cut the peppers in half lengthways, removing the stalk and seeds. Slice the garlic into five pieces and combine in a bowl with the peppers, thyme, a little sea salt and the olive oil. Cover with foil and bake at 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 for 15 minutes or until the peppers are soft.

When the peppers have cooled, discard the thyme, but keep the juices. Peel the skin from the peppers and roughly chop them up, then cook in a pan with the juices, paprika and Tabasco until the juices thicken. Taste for seasoning.

The aioli

To make the aioli, heat the vinegar gently with the saffron, then allow to cool. Whisk the yolks, mustard, vinegar and garlic together and gradually drizzle in the olive oil until it emulsifies like mayonnaise. Add salt to taste.

The fish

Season the hake fillets with salt and dust the skin side lightly with flour, patting to remove the excess. Heat some oil in a pan on a medium heat and add the fillets, skin-side down. Cook until golden brown, then turn them over.

Transfer the fish to a non-stick tray, then finish in the oven for 3–6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Meanwhile, gently warm the brandade and spoon a little onto each plate, top with the hake and serve with the peppers and aioli.