Merluza en salsa verde

Merluza en salsa verde

At the table

By
From
Basque
Serves
4
Photographer
Laura Edwards

I’ve been so lucky to have been able to cook this dish in one of the sociedades gastronómicas or txoko (gastronomic societies). It was a great feeling to see the men cooking for the women, turning a long-held tradition on its head, as for a long time women weren’t allowed into the sociedades.

This is a very popular dish in Basque cooking, I have blanched the white asparagus, but in Spain they normally use tinned asparagus. For the peas, many people blanch beforehand, but I just add them to the sauce and allow them to cook for a couple of minutes in there.

In the Basque kitchen, a very similar recipe to this is Merluza a la Koxkera, which is almost exactly the same except it uses green asparagus.

It is almost impossible to get into a sociedad gastronómica, but you can eat this recipe at the restaurant Bodegón Alejandro, where you will find many of the local dishes cooked to perfection.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
200ml txakoli or other crisp dry white wine
150ml fresh fish stock
4 x 180g hake fillets
sea salt
finely ground black pepper
200g peas
200g fresh clams, cleaned
8 white asparagus, blanched for 5–8 minutes, (or 4 large)
1 small handful finely chopped parsley

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the garlic and the shallot until soft and lightly golden – this will take around 3–4 minutes. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, then slowly add the wine and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the stock. You should then have a silky-smooth sauce.
  2. Season the hake fillets and add to the sauce. Cook the hake for 4–5 minutes, then add the peas and clams, cover and cook for 2–3 minutes until the clams open. Discard any clams that do not open. To finish, add the asparagus and parsley, keep simmering for a minute, season to taste and serve with some crusty bread.
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